Record Ice Loss in Arctic
BBC, Dec 9, 2002
Melting was so severe on the Greenland ice sheet in June that field researcher Konrad Steffen wondered just how he would get off the continent. "We had come in with a fixed-wing aircraft landing on skis," said the University of Colorado climatologist. "If that snow is melting then you cannot leave. As it was, we had to charter a helicopter." Greenland's unusual summer slush was part of a record-breaking year of northern polar ice loss, reported by Dr Steffen and other scientists this weekend at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) conference in San Francisco. According to scientists, surface melt on Greenland was the highest in recorded history - and extended to elevations previously untouched by melt - while the amount of Arctic sea ice also reached a record low. ... Greenland glacier and sea ice melt, combined with disappearing permafrost, the northern expansion of vegetation, and increased fresh water run-off present a "compelling case that something is going on," said Larry Hinzman, of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. Measurements of the Greenland ice sheet taken from passive microwave satellite sensors show 685,000 square kilometres of melt, an area more than double that of 1992. ... In total, the arctic warming is an unprecedented trend, according to Dr Hinzman. "We're experiencing the most rapid increase in temperature in recorded history," he said.