Highlight of the Week: Arctic Sea Ice Slow to Recover, Near Record November Low

Seasonal Arctic sea-ice recovery has been slower than many hoped this fall, erasing modest gains achieved during the relatively cool summer.
Daily observations of sea-ice extent this November are currently below the levels for corresponding dates from November 2007, when record lows were observed. November 2007 sea-ice extent was 11 percent below the long-term average. The next few weeks will be critical for building up enough new ice to avoid setting a new record low for November.
The rapid Arctic sea-ice melting during the last three decades is due to global warming and has even outpaced the projections of most climate models. Based on the rapid melt, NASA scientist Jay Zwally has projected summer sea ice could be essentially gone by as early as 2012.
"Sea-ice decline is another sign that the effects of global warming are already upon us," said Dr. Amanda Staudt, climate scientist for National Wildlife Federation. "The big picture is that the 10 warmest years on record all occur within the 12-year period 1997-2008," according to NASA.
"The loss of Arctic sea ice has huge implications for polar bears," said Dr. Doug Inkley, senior scientist for National Wildlife Federation. "U.S. Geological Survey studies and models indicate that two thirds of polar bears will disappear by 2050, due to ice loss."
"We need urgent action to move climate and clean energy legislation from the Senate to President Obama's desk, while there is still time to avoid global warming's most damaging effects," said Dr. Staudt.

Published: November 19, 2009