Press Release
8 December 2003

Arctic Sea Ice Low, Second Year in a Row

Last year's sea ice extent and concentration set a new record low in the Arctic. 2003 was a close second, according to remote sensing data from September, when sea ice in the northern latitudes is typically at its lowest, after the summer melt season.The near-record low in 2003, accompanied by sea ice trends showing a steady decline over the last decade, is significant to scientists researching global warming. Not only is sea ice an indicator of possible climate change, but the loss of sea ice itself may further compound the problem. Because ice reflects the sun's energy, less ice means that more of the sun's energy is absorbed, rather than reflected, causing temperatures to rise even further. While sea ice floats, and therefore does not directly contribute to sea-level rise, increasing temperatures around the Arctic may cause areas of the Greenland ice sheet to melt, which could contribute to a rise in sea level.