Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security, scientists warn. Just because this year’s arctic melt represents a significant gain in sea ice from last year, the region is still poised to be ice-free by 2050.
In fact, measurements of sea ice volume are at record a low-level, which means that the arctic ice cover is exceptionally thin and vulnerable. To prove their point, scientists noted that despite the seemingly good news about the slowed melting this year, the decline in sea ice has been long-term, so one slower year of melting does not mean we are out of the woods.
The end of the 2013 melt season finds the ice unusually thin, making it more defenseless against the influence of weather systems. This thinness means that the melt next year could be drastic since the ice is not thick.
During the summers between 2004 and 2012, the season was dominated by a weather pattern that helped transport warm air into the Arctic, but even with the cooler conditions during the 2012 summer, sea ice extent still dropped into the top 10 lowest on record.
In other words, 2013 may look less awful, but it is by no means a rebound year.