Arctic to humankind: 'I'm melting, melting…'
Historical Data Shows Arctic Melt of Last Two Decades Is 'Unprecedented'Sea ice melting since 1979 is 'enormously outside the bounds of natural variability' and clearly linked to humans burning fossil fuels, research shows.
BY BOB BERWYN, INSIDECLIMATE NEWS
While satellite images of the Arctic clearly show that sea ice in the region has been on a steady decline since those images began in 1979, the relatively short span of that history has been seized on by some climate denialists to discount its significance in concluding humans are warming the planet.
Now, scientists have compiled the most detailed study to date of sea ice records going back more than a century and a half. The data shows that the rapid meltdown that satellites have been documenting since 1979 is unprecedented since at least 1850 and coincides with the buildup of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels.
Arctic sea ice has not been at levels as low as today's for at least 5,000 to 7,000 years, according to Julienne Stroeve, a researcher with the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), who was not involved in the study. "It may have been sometime during the mid-Holocene, based on driftwood found in Greenland that came from Siberia," she said. "Some other studies have suggested at least 800,000 years."