Polar Ice Cap Collapse

There have been a number of news stories published in the past several days reporting on the acceleration of the annual summer retreat of the Arctic ice cap. The shrinkage is at its greatest extent in the month of September, before the colder winter temperatures start the refreezing process, but this has been a year like no other ever recorded: As of September 9th, about 1.63 million square miles of sea ice remained—20% less than the lowest ever known—and it is still shrinking.

In order to illustrate the extent of the recession, I put together an animation using the daily images of sea ice concentration from the National Snow and Ice Data Center.1

Polar Sea Ice Retreat: 08/01/2007–09/14/2007

Notice the extent of the retreat in the areas north of the Beaufort, Chukchi and East Siberian Seas off Alaska and Russia. (To the right of the North Pole in the animation.) This huge area of ice-free ocean has been exposed for the first time.

The Northwest Passage is completely open, and the Northeast Passage across the top of Russia is blocked by only a thin tongue of ice. The figure below shows the average September ice extend from 1979-2000.

September 2007 Polar Sea Ice

1 Maslanik, J., and J. Stroeve. 1999, updated daily. Near real-time DMSP SSM/I daily polar gridded sea ice concentrations, 08/01/2007-09/14/2007. Boulder, Colorado USA: National Snow and Ice Data Center. Digital media.

» Posted: Saturday, September 15, 2007 | Comments (7) | Permanent Link


To hell in a handbasket.

» Posted by David S. on September 17, 2007 10:39 AM

be positive, grab your coronas and enjoy

» Posted by Brad on September 29, 2007 06:03 PM

Jeff, it’s been awhile since we talked politics. Do you still support Republicans, even as they deny that humans are causing these changes?

And what do you think of Al Gore winning the Nobel?

» Posted by Berns on October 23, 2007 09:03 PM

Well, that’s just one of the many areas that I disagree with the majority of the party. I’m not sure it’s official party policy, but certainly many members have their head in the sand (or somewhere else mustier) about it.

Gore should be applauded for his efforts.

» Posted by winter on November 1, 2007 01:45 PM

» Posted by Anonymous on March 29, 2008 01:09 PM

seriously you belive this crap? wow other planets have melted there ice caps its normal we arnt the biggest problem a volcano errouption makes more polloution than us in 100s of years although we may be helping with the polloution we arnt affecting it that much. and besides those pictures of before and after looked pretty beautyful to me.

» Posted by Kyle Wood on December 2, 2008 03:02 PM

Oh my god! We have a climate? And it changes!!!!!!!!!!! Holy crap I’m glad Al Gore taught us all that. I didn’t know that the so called intellectual’s would take national consensus as fact. Did we as humans create the mini ice age in the 16th century? But hey what is the weather going to be in a week? cause we all know that we can predict what’s coming. By the way look into what company’s Albert Gore owns. Bet you find a bunch that have to do with switching off oil to his products.

» Posted by Anonymous on January 20, 2009 04:59 AM