As Arctic Sea Ice Shows Record Decline, Scientists Prepare To Go Blind

"Due to congressional budget cuts, the 38-year continuous U.S. Arctic satellite monitoring program is about to end, leaving researchers blind to ongoing Arctic sea ice losses."

"In March 2017, when Arctic sea ice is typically at its maximum winter extent, circling U.S. satellites recorded an extent of just 5.57 million square miles — the lowest maximum in the record’s 38-year history, breaking the previous record set two years earlier and falling nearly half a million square miles below the 1981-2010 long-term average.

That Arctic sea ice has been seriously declining since around 2005 is a well-known fact, thanks to a series of U.S. Department of Defense satellites that have continuously recorded the region with passive microwave instrumentation since 1979. These satellites have provided scientists, citizens and government with a thorough record of the changing Arctic — informing climate research and policymaking, mid-latitude weather predictions, and geopolitical analyses useful to international shipping and natural gas exploration companies as the Arctic melts and opens up for exploitation.

But that’s about to change.

The U.S. satellites currently in orbit are already past their expiry date, with some already cutting out. When these satellites fail completely, Arctic researchers warn, the ongoing scientific recordkeeping will come to an abrupt end, with no funding and no time left to replace the aging infrastructure."

Gloria Dickie reports for Mongabay May 25, 2017.


"Alaska's Sea Ice Is Melting Unusually Early, 'Another Sign Arctic Is Unraveling'" (InsideClimate News)

Source: Mongabay, 05/26/2017