Scientists Give Grim Warning On Arctic Sea Ice - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Scientists Give Grim Warning On Arctic Sea Ice

WASHINGTON (AP) - Critical ice in the Arctic Ocean melted to record low levels this sweltering summer and that can make weather more extreme far away from the poles, scientists say.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center reported Monday that the extent of Arctic sea ice shrank to 1.58 million square miles and is likely to melt more in the coming weeks. That breaks the old record of 1.61 million square miles set in 2007.

The North Pole region is an ocean that mostly is crusted at the top with ice. In the winter, the frozen saltwater surface usually extends about 6 million square miles, shrinking in summer and growing back in the fall. That's different from Antarctica, which is land covered by ice and snow and then surrounded by sea ice.

Normally sea ice in the Arctic reaches its minimum in mid-September and then starts refreezing. But levels on Sunday shrank 27,000 square miles — about the size of West Virginia — beyond the old record.

Figures are based on satellite records dating back to 1979. The ice center bases its figures on averages calculated over five days.

Data center scientist Ted Scambos said the melt can be blamed mostly on global warming from man-made emissions of greenhouse gases. There are natural factors involved too, including a storm that chewed up a significant amount ice earlier this month. But, he said, dramatic summer sea ice losses in all but one year since 2007, continuous thin ice, and warm air temperatures show a pattern that can only be explained by climate change.

"It really does imply that the Arctic is moving to a new state," said NASA ice systems program scientist Tom Wagner. "The Arctic is changing."

Wagner and Scambos said in 2007 some people thought it was just an odd year that caused the dramatic melt, but years like this one show something bigger is happening.

This milestone is a "substantial step" to the day when there will be no significant sea ice in the Arctic in the summer, said NASA chief scientist Waleed Abdalati.

"Why do we care?," Abdalati, an ice scientist, asked. "This ice has been an important factor in determining the climate and weather conditions under which modern civilization has evolved."

Scientists sometimes call the Arctic the world's refrigerator and this is like leaving the fridge door open, Scambos said.

"This is kind of a knob on global weather," Wagner said. "We don't know the impact yet" of fiddling with it.

Scientists say Arctic sea ice helps moderate temperatures further south in the winter and summer. A study earlier this year in the peer-reviewed journal Geophysical Research Letters linked some of the factors behind Arctic sea ice loss to higher probabilities of extreme weather "such as drought, flooding, cold spells and heat waves."

Scientists also say sea ice is crucial for polar bears and other animals.

Wagner said the changes in Arctic sea ice fits with glacier loss in Alaska and Canada and ice loss in Greenland. Earlier this summer, NASA satellites reported a dramatic melt in Greenland, where nearly every part of its massive ice sheet started melting, something that last happened in 1889.

Ohio State University ice scientist Jason Box has been monitoring Greenland, where he said temperatures have sometimes been 9 to 18 degrees warmer than normal this summer and the ice is reflecting far less heat — and thus absorbing more energy — than ever before.

Global warming physics for years has been saying if greenhouse gases are causing climate change, the Arctic will feel it first with loss of sea ice and melt in snow and ice on land, Box said.

"We're in a declining trend because the Earth is getting warmer," Scambos said. "It's going to continue to be a series of shrinking ice extents year by year... We're not going back."

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Convicted Idaho dog killer arrested in Washington

    Convicted Idaho dog killer arrested in Washington

    Thursday, September 20 2018 3:55 AM EDT2018-09-20 07:55:33 GMT

    A man convicted for killing a dog in Kootenai County was arrested by the Okanogan County deputies on Friday. Austin Stephen Matott was released from jail on a $25,000 on Tuesday. He was pulled over for a routine traffic stop a few days beforehand. Matott was wanted in Idaho for skipping his sentencing hearing last month, August 7. He was found guilty of two charges of animal abuse and cruelty. A jury found Matott responsible for killing a corgi-heeler mix named Hank, who was...

    >>

    A man convicted for killing a dog in Kootenai County was arrested by the Okanogan County deputies on Friday. Austin Stephen Matott was released from jail on a $25,000 on Tuesday. He was pulled over for a routine traffic stop a few days beforehand. Matott was wanted in Idaho for skipping his sentencing hearing last month, August 7. He was found guilty of two charges of animal abuse and cruelty. A jury found Matott responsible for killing a corgi-heeler mix named Hank, who was...

    >>
  • Spokane sex trafficking victim gets second chance as shop owner

    Spokane sex trafficking victim gets second chance as shop owner

    Tuesday, September 18 2018 8:42 PM EDT2018-09-19 00:42:17 GMT

    SPOKANE, Wash. - From the outside, the Repeat Boutique looks like a lot of other thrift shops in Spokane.  Inside, some might describe the stuff for sale as old, used, discarded garbage -- but store manager CJ Curtis sees its potential. And just like the goods in her shop, CJ is on her way to a new life, one far from the one she once lived. 

    >>

    SPOKANE, Wash. - From the outside, the Repeat Boutique looks like a lot of other thrift shops in Spokane.  Inside, some might describe the stuff for sale as old, used, discarded garbage -- but store manager CJ Curtis sees its potential. And just like the goods in her shop, CJ is on her way to a new life, one far from the one she once lived. 

    >>
  • Spokane man booked into Kooenai County Jail for 21st time

    Spokane man booked into Kooenai County Jail for 21st time

    Thursday, September 20 2018 1:51 PM EDT2018-09-20 17:51:49 GMT

    KOOTENAI COUNTY, Idaho - The Kootenai County Sheriff's Office reports a 39-year-old man from Spokane was booked into the Kootenai County Jail for the 21st time on Wednesday. Deputies arrested Anthony K. Thompson for a felony escape from community custody warrant and possession of stolen property.

    >>

    KOOTENAI COUNTY, Idaho - The Kootenai County Sheriff's Office reports a 39-year-old man from Spokane was booked into the Kootenai County Jail for the 21st time on Wednesday. Deputies arrested Anthony K. Thompson for a felony escape from community custody warrant and possession of stolen property.

    >>
HD DOPPLER 6i
/