The Arctic Ocean’s ice this summer is experiencing its fastest shrinkage rate on record, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.
The ice covered 4.66 million sq. km as of Saturday, coming close to the record 4.25 million sq. km observed in September 2007, JAXA said Monday, based on data from the Shizuku observation satellite, which was placed in orbit in May.
Because the ice cap usually continues to shrink until late September, the possibility can’t be ruled out that this year may see the smallest ice cap ever, JAXA officials said. “Though the ice extent’s shrinking pace tends to slow down in August, it is instead accelerating this year. This is probably because the ice cover has become thinner in recent years and easier to melt away in the summer,” said Masahiro Hori, a JAXA researcher and a visiting associate professor at Hokkaido University.