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NOAA measures extent of Arctic sea ice

NOAA researchers set out this week on a two-week mission to fly over the Arctic to measure how much the ice has melted over the summer and gauge the speed of this fall’s refreezing of sea ice. According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, 2014's minimum sea ice extent was 1.94 million square miles, the 6th smallest on record. Aboard a NOAA Lockheed WP-3D Orion aircraft, a highly specialized four-engine turboprop known for its work as a hurricane hunter, researchers will use scientific instruments to measure the extent of this summer's melt before the ice begins freezing for winter. The Tampa, Florida-based aircraft will operate out of Fairbanks International Airport. This is the second year in a row scientists have flown above Arctic waters.  Data gathered from both years is testing a hypothesis that increased summer heat stored in the newly sea-ice free areas of the Arctic Ocean lead to surface heat fluxes in autumn that are large enough to have impacts on atmospheric temperature, humidity, wind and cloud distributions.  James Overland, Ph.D., Arctic researcher with NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle said: "Both the sea ice area and its thickness have been decreasing dramatically during the ...

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Ongoing sea ice retreat in the Arctic

Scientists take sea ice samples out of Polarstern's mummy chair, which is used to investigate sea ice without actually setting a foot on it. (Image Credit: Alfred-Wegener-Institute) The area of sea ice in the Arctic fell to a summer minimum of around 5.0 million square kilometres this year, which is about 1.6 million square kilometres more than the record low in 2012. According to sea ice physicist Marcel Nicolaus from the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) and Lars Kaleschke from the Hamburg Cluster of Excellence for Climate Research (CliSAP) this confirms the long-term downward trend in the Arctic. On the other hand, the winter ice sheet in the South Polar Ocean has expanded to an area of 20.0 million square kilometres, as the researchers report, which exceeds the 30-year-maximum from the previous year. This Thursday, September 18, Marcel Nicolaus, Lars Kaleschke and other leading sea ice experts will be available for discussions and interviews at an international sea ice symposium in Hamburg. "The current minimum sea ice in the Arctic illustrates the continuation of a long-term downward trend. With an area of 5.0 million square kilometres, the 2014 minimum approximately equals last year's minimum. This by no means represents a trend ...

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