Artic Meltdown Reaching Record Levels newsvine furl google yahoo netscape

The sea ice in the arctic circle seasonally grows and shrinks each year; however, a disturbing trend, caused by rising sea temperatures is that the summer ice is reaching record lows during the summer.

The summer ice has dropped from about eight million square kilometers in the early 80s to just under 6 million in 2005 with similar drops in the winter.

The maximum amount of sea ice in the Arctic winter has fallen by six percent over each of the last two winters, as compared to a loss of merely 1.5 percent per decade on average annually since the earliest satellite monitoring in 1979. This is happening as summer sea ice continues its retreat at an average of ten percent per decade.

According to the NASA story, the ramifications can be far reaching:

According to [Joey] Comiso [, a NASA research scientist], if the winter ice retreat continues, the effect could be very profound, especially for marine animals. "The seasonal ice regions in the Arctic are among the most biologically productive regions in the world," he said. "Some of the richest fisheries are found in the region, in part because of sea ice. Sea ice provides melt-water in spring that floats because of low density. This melt-water layer is considered by biologists as the ideal layer for phytoplankton growth because it does not sink, and there is plenty of sunlight reaching it to enable photosynthesis. Plankton are at the bottom of the food web. If their concentration goes down, animals at all tropics level would be deprived of a basic source of food."

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