Arctic ice levels to reach new record low next week

Melting ice on the Beaufort Sea in the Arctic.A week ago, I talked about new evidence suggesting that with current melting rates being detected by satellite, in 10 years there could be days in the summer where there will be no ice in the Arctic.

Yesterday, a report came out from the National Snow and Ice Data Center, the U.S. agency that tracks the amount of ice in the Arctic, stating that the extent of Arctic sea ice will reach a new record low next week.  Since Arctic ice typically reaches its lowest yearly level in mid-September, the ice will continue to melt for a few more weeks, pushing this record even lower.

"Chances are it will cross the previous record while we're still in sea ice retreat." says Ted Scambos, the lead scientist at the NSIDC.

The extent of Arctic ice has a yearly cycle. In the winter, the extent reaches between 13 and 14 million square kilometres, and then steadily declines as we head into spring and summer. The extent typically reaches its lowest level in mid-September, and then gradually builds again, usually reaching its maximum in March.

This year, there has been a series of warm weather events that have passed over the Arctic, and temperatures have been 1 to 3 degrees Celsius above the 1981-2012 average from Alaska to Greenland. Also, a large "summer" storm system moved into the Arctic from the Siberian coast earlier this month, causing rapid melting and break-up of the western edge of the ice sheet.

[ Related: Massive cyclone blows over central Arctic ocean ]