It's a record that won't likely last very long: The Arctic sea ice cover today hit a record low, announced the National Snow and Ice Data Center, but the shrinking isn't about to stop. The ice cover had reduced to 1.58 million square miles as of yesterday, and the Washington Post explains that the summer sea ice usually dips to its lowest point around Sept. 13, meaning more melting is bound to occur before temps start to cool. The previous low was set in September 2007, when the ice cover measured 1.61 million square miles.
A scientist with the center tells the Post that the ice has become thinner due to the presence of more open water, which soaks up more heat. That thinner cover doesn't stand up as well to summer temperatures or to storms, whose winds and waves cause it to break. "This year we had a pretty strong storm go through the Arctic in early August, and that certainly has been a big factor in the rapid loss during August," says the scientist. "But before that storm, we were already tracking along the 2007 trajectory, so a record may have happened even without that storm because of the long-term trend." Click for more on the situation from the Post. (Read more Arctic sea ice stories.)