BOULDER, Colo., Oct. 4 (UPI) -- A U.S. study suggests 2006 continued the pattern of sharp annual decreases in Arctic ice due to global warming.
Although lower August temperatures prevented sea ice in the Arctic from reaching its lowest summer level on record, the University of Colorado-Boulder scientists said the latest measurements indicate the sea ice minimum reached Sept. 14 was the fourth lowest on record in 29 years of satellite record-keeping.
CU-Boulder Research Professor Mark Serreze, a member of the university's National Snow and Ice Data Center, said Arctic sea ice has been declining about 8.6 percent per decade, or at about 23 million square miles per year,
"If fairly cool and stormy conditions hadn't appeared in August and slowed the rate of summer ice loss, I feel certain that 2006 would have surpassed last year's record low for September sea ice," said Serreze.
Average air temperatures across most of the Arctic Ocean between January and August were about 2 degrees to 7 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the long-term average across the region during the past 50 years, the team said.