Hyderabad, Sept 27: The sudden spurt in melting Arctic sea ice is now worrying scientists even as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration is busy finding reasons for the ice decline.
Though the Arctic sea ice has been melting for decades, it is for the first time that it has shrunk to its lowest in 29 years. Satellite and remote sensing data gathered by NASA reveals that there has been a sudden speed-up of ice melting process of late. The sea ice decline has gone below the minimum level set by oceanographers two years ago. NASA has been closely monitoring the sea ice melting phenomenon since 1979 and now it is busy working on the reasons for the sudden speed-up vis-à-vis what it means for the future of the human planet.
Space scientists attending the 58th international astronautical congress here are discussing the havoc the melting Arctic sea ice would cause to human, plant and animal life on the earth. If the ice decline increases further, it will hurry up the process of submergence of several islands in the world even while changing the geography of the coastline in several countries.
According to NASA scientists, the sea ice has been melting at around 10 per cent a decade for the past 29 years. "But the 2007 minimum, reached around September 14, is far below the previous record made in 2005 and is about 38 per cent lower than the climatological average. Compared to the record low in 2005, the extent and area are 24 per cent and nearly 26 per cent lower this year, respectively. This year, the amount of ice is so far below that of previous years that it really is cause for concern. The trend in decreasing ice cover seems to be getting stronger and stronger as time goes on," says senior NASA scientist Josefino C Comiso.
Scientists attribute this phenomenon to rapid changes in climate. "The implications on global climate are not well known, but they have the potential to be quite large, since the Arctic ice cover exhibits a tremendous influence on our climate. It really is imperative that we try to understand the interactions between the ice, ocean and atmosphere. And satellites hold the key to developing this understanding."