Arctic sea ice reaches second lowest level on record

August 28th, 2008 - 2:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Moscow, Aug 28 (RIA Novosti) Arctic sea ice has shrunk to its second lowest level since the start of satellite observations of the territory, and could melt further to exceed the 2007 record, a US research group has said.In 2007 the Arctic ice melted to about 4.3 million sq km.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center said on its website that the ice has melted beyond the 2005 minimum of 5.32 million sq km.

The observation has aroused concern among environmentalists as the current Arctic summer has been comparatively cold, suggesting that the shrinking of the ice is gathering momentum.

Scientists say that the melting season ends in a few weeks, and then it will be possible to say for certain whether a new record low has been reached.

The melting icecap is a key piece in the global climate jigsaw. As the ice cover shrinks, the region’s albedo - its ability to reflect sunlight back into the atmosphere - declines, and more heat is absorbed by the dark water surface, causing further warming, in what scientists call a positive feedback process.

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