In a sign of continued global warming, the Arctic sea ice this summer will shrink to a new low, 5 percent smaller than the previous minimum of last summer, scientists in Japan said.
A group of researchers led by Hajime Yamaguchi, a professor of ocean information systems with the University of Tokyo, said their predictions are based on satellite data on movements of ice from winter through spring.
The U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center has said the Arctic sea ice shrank to 3.41 million square kilometers on Sept. 16, 2012, the smallest since satellite monitoring began in 1979. Yamaguchi and colleagues predict the area will be 160,000 square km smaller than that in early September 2013.
Research associate Noriaki Kimura said the thaw started from the Russian coasts this year. He added that ice north of Russia will be completely melted around July 21 and north of Canada around Aug. 6, opening sea routes in the respective areas.
The Arctic sea ice averaged 6.71 million square km between 1979 and 2000. This summer's minimum prediction is less than half that figure.
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