Arctic Sea Ice Close to Record Low, Say Scientists

Researchers monitoring the ice melt in the Arctic are growing increasingly concerned after data collected revealed that the ice sheet that covers the Arctic is receding at a record pace.

The U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in conjunction with the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI) revealed that the extent of the melting is very close to reaching the record set back in 2007.

The DMI produced an ice chart that highlighted the reduction in sea ice but said it would let the NSIDC- considered to be the leading organization with reference to sea ice- make the final determination on when and if any new records are made.

"We reached the minimum ice area today (Thursday). It has never been measured less than right now," Ola Johannessen, founding director of the Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center in Norway, told Reuters."It is just below the 2007 minimum."

Some scientists feel the new data does not show the whole picture and explained that the ice caps have been in a state of steady decline over the past few decades. While they understand that the shrinking ice caps pose a problem to indigenous peoples as well as wildlife, it may not be the result of just climate change.

"While we still get plenty of ice growth during autumn and winter, the ice cover that we have in spring is thinner than it used to be," Mark Serreze, the NSIDC director, told Reuters.

"It has gotten so thin now that large areas completely melt out in summer. We no longer need a 'boost' from weather patterns favoring summer ice melt like we saw in 2007," he added.

The melting Arctic ice is also opening new areas that have been thought to hold large amounts of oil and natural gas and it is also opening shipping lanes that were once impassable.