Looking at new data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center, Suzanne Goldenberg at the Guardian reports Thursday that Arctic sea ice continues down a "death spiral," disappearing much faster than scientists expected.
According to satellite data, the amount of ice cover fell to its fifth lowest on record in March.
Showing unusually warm temperatures, the Arctic struggled to produce ice at normal levels and took several weeks longer to "push the ice out across the Barents and Bering seas," reports Goldenberg.
The scenario was consistent with a continual decrease, or "linear rate of decline," in Arctic ice levels this time of year over the last several decades, according to the researchers.
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The researchers at the National Snow and Ice Data Center report:
In the Arctic, the maximum extent for the year is reached on average around March. However, the timing varies considerably from year to year. This winter the ice cover continued to expand until March 21, reaching 14.91 million square kilometers (5.76 million square miles), making it both the fifth lowest maximum and the fifth latest timing of the maximum since 1979. [...]
Average ice extent for March 2014 was the fifth lowest for the month in the satellite record. Through 2014, the linear rate of decline for March ice extent is 2.6% per decade relative to the 1981 to 2010 average.