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Arctic Ice Hits a Low as Globe Continues to Warm
17/ 12/ 2008

Arctic Ice Hits a Low as Globe Continues to Warm17 December 2008 – Ice volume in the Arctic in 2008 dropped to its second-lowest level since measurements began, according to new figures released by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

The new figures show that global warming is continuing apace - 2008 was one of the warmest years in the last century.

The report notes that 2008 was marked by climate extremes around the world including devastating floods, severe and persistent droughts, snow storms, heatwaves and cold waves.

Cyclone Nargis killed 78,000 people in Myanmar, and a devastating Atlantic hurricane season caused many casualties and widespread destruction in the Carribbean, Central America and the United States.

While the past 12 months have generally been cooler than previous years due to the La Niña weather pattern, longer-term trends show that the world is still warming due to climate change – 2008 is likely to rank as the 10th warmest year since records started in 1850.

Data shows that the ten hottest years since 1850 have all been since 1997, peaking in 2005 at 14.79 degrees celsius.

The dramatic collapse of a quarter of the ancient ice shelves on Canada's Ellesmere Island in the Arctic Ocean contributed to a shrinking of the Arctic ice cover from 9,000 sq km a century ago to just 1,000 sq km.

Meanwhile, the report also shows that the Antartic ozone hold is larger than in 2007 – growing from 25 million km2 to 27 million km2 in 2008.

The data is based on research by WMO and several collaborating research institutions based on information collected from networks of land-based weather stations, ships and buoys, and satellites.

Final updates and figures for 2008 will be published in March 2009 in the annual WMO Statement on the Status of the Global Climate.

Further Resources
World Meteorological Organization
UNEP Climate Change Page