Warming temperatures have reduced the area of frozen sea on the planet to roughly 2.2 million square miles, less than half of what it was four decades ago, suggesting that irreversible and accelerated climate change will be upon us in the coming decades.
The record low of 2.6 million square miles—reached in 2007—was smashed Aug. 27. Scientists predicted Friday that the Arctic Ocean would be ice free in the summer months within 20 years.
The shrinking of the ice cap was interpreted by environment groups as a signal of long-term global warming caused by man-made greenhouse gas emissions. A study published in July in the journal Environmental Research Letters, that compared model projections with observations, estimated that the radical decline in Arctic sea ice has been between 70-95% due to human activities.
“We are on the edge of one of the most significant moments in environmental history as sea ice heads towards a new record low. The loss of sea ice will be devastating, raising global temperatures that will impact on our ability to grow food and causing extreme weather around the world,” said John Sauven, director of Greenpeace UK.