Arctic Sea Ice Sets Another Record

Posted on 22 March 2017    

Arctic sea ice maximum breaks a new record, being the lowest recorded since satellite record keeping began in 1979.

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GLAND, Switzerland, March 22, 2017 – Arctic sea ice set its lowest spring extent in 38 years of satellite measurement. The record has been confirmed by the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre. The ice maximum (when sea ice in the Arctic hits its greatest extent in spring) has been declining at a rate of about 3 per cent per decade since 1979 when satellite record keeping began.
 

“This is extremely worrisome for animals at the margins of the ice extent, such as the European Arctic,” says Martin Sommerkorn, Head of Conservation for WWF’s Arctic Programme. “In the case of polar bears, they need the ice to reach denning areas, or to get out onto the ice to feed after a long fasting period in the den. Several species of seal also rely on the ice to give birth in the spring.”
 

A recent study suggested that 50-70% of the Arctic ice disappearance is caused by people. Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, leader of WWF’s Climate & Energy Practice, says this means people can, and must, take action to limit the disappearance of the ice.
 

“This is not just about the effects on Arctic animals; it is also about the people who rely on those animals,” says Pulgar-Vidal. “We’re trying to cool a larger, hotter part of the world with a smaller and smaller air conditioner. If the sea ice goes, it will impact the lives and livelihoods of billions of people and cause untold damage to sensitive ecosystems. Momentum for addressing this crisis is increasing, but as nature persistently reminds us, we must pick up the pace. We must leverage the Paris Agreement on climate change through increased scale and speed of implementation.”

For further information, contact: Mandy Jean Woods   mwoods@wwf.org.za    +27723930027

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