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Vol. 15, No. 33 Week of August 15, 2010
Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry

July Arctic ice second lowest on record

The extent of the sea ice cover in the Arctic in July was the second lowest for that month since satellite ice observations began in 1979, the National Snow and Ice Data Center reported Aug. 4. The ice extent had reached a record low in June, but stormy, cloudy and relatively cool July weather slowed the ice melt, pushing the end-of-July ice area above that in July 2007, the year that experienced a record breaking sea-ice minimum in September.

“Cool, stormy weather this July has made it less likely that the upcoming 2010 sea-ice minimum will set a new record,” NSIDC said. “It would take a very unusual set of conditions in August to create a new record low.”

But a climatic phenomenon known as the Arctic oscillation has transported old, multiyear ice in the Arctic Ocean from an area north of the Canadian Archipelago south and west into the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, where this ice is beginning to melt, NSIDC said. Loss of thick, multiyear ice is thought to be a prime factor in the low sea-ice minimums observed in recent years.

On average, the July ice extent has been declining at the rate of 6.4 percent per decade since 1979, NSIDC said.

—Alan Bailey



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