Arctic sea ice this year reached its fourth lowest level in recorded history, the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) revealed Tuesday, in what scientists and climate campaigners say is a disturbing reminder that human-made global warming continues to worsen.
"The minimum ice extent was the fourth lowest in the satellite record, and reinforces the long-term downward trend in Arctic ice extent," the Boulder, Colorado-based NSIDC said. "The lowest extent this year, reached on September 11, was 1.7 million square miles. That’s quite low, but still 394,000 square miles above the low extent that occurred Sept. 17, 2012, when ice only covered 1.31 million square miles at the top of the world."
However, the NSIDC noted an overall disturbing trend: "The nine lowest extents in the satellite era have all occurred in the last nine years."
Further, in a discussion of the findings, NASA noted on Tuesday: "The sea ice decline has accelerated since 1996. The 10 lowest minimum extents in the satellite record have occurred in the last 11 years."
Julienne Seroide, a senior scientist at NSIDC, told Common Dreams that "the long-term trends towards less ice in the Arctic is definitely linked to increases in greenhouse gases and a warming arctic. That is pretty well known now."
Seroide emphasized that , while the 2015 findings in isolation are not evidence of global warming, the long-term trend they are part of constitutes proof: "When we talk about climate change, we are talking about the long-term trend."
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Greenpeace USA referred to the findings as a "the latest climate siren" in a statement released Tuesday.
"The sea ice minimum measurement is a devastating reminder of how fast we’re hurtling towards an unstoppable climate crisis," said Mary Nicol of Greenpeace USA in a statement released Tuesday. "Our leaders are receiving strong signals from impacted communities, scientists and the public that the extraction and burning of fossil fuels must stop if we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change."
"Instead of using data like the sea ice minimum as a clear warning sign to take bold action," Nicol continued, "our leaders are allowing Shell to drill for oil in the melting Arctic ice. President [Barack] Obama must put the brakes on an Arctic oil rush and commit to leaving publicly owned fossil fuels from federal lands in the ground."
The findings come amid growing grassroots calls for climate action. Climate, labor, and Indigenous on Tuesday urged Obama to keep public fossil fuels in the earth.
And notable Canadians, including Naomi Klein, as well as organizations such as Black Lives Matter Toronto and Idle No More, released a manifesto on Tuesday which declares: "Deepening poverty and inequality are a scar on the country’s present. And Canada’s record on climate change is a crime against humanity’s future... Now is the time for boldness. Now is the time to leap."