It seems that the Arctic sea ice has reached its minimum area for the year. The record for reduction from last year has not been broken, but the situation is nonetheless disturbing. Whereas last year provided optimal conditions for melting, the unusually cold winter last year – arising from La Nina conditions – meant that this year’s melt should have been quite a bit less significant. As it happened, it was within 10% of last year’s record.
Walt Meier, a scientist at the American National Snow and Ice Data Center explained the situation:
I think this summer has been more remarkable than last year, in fact, because last year we had really optimal conditions to melt a lot of ice. We had clear skies with the Sun blazing down, we had warm temperatures, and winds that pushed the ice edge northwards. We didn’t have any of this this year, and yet we still came within 10% of the record; so people might be tempted to call it a recovery, but I don’t think that’s a good term, we’re still on a downwards trend towards ice-free Arctic summers.
In short, the Arctic ice is probably already locked into a death spiral. Here’s hoping that doesn’t lead to widespread melting of the permafrost, since the results of that would be catastrophic for humanity.