11 SEPTEMBER 2012, NORTH OF ARCTIC CIRCLE -The Greenpeace ship MY Arctic Sunrise is on an expedition to the Arctic to document the lowest sea ice level on record. Two polar bears walk on ice flow in the foreground.
Scientists from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) release preliminary figures suggesting that Arctic sea ice has reached the lowest recorded extent since records began in 1979. The data indicates that on September 16th Arctic ice extent covered 3.41 m km2 - a drop of at least 45% since records began.
September Photo of the Month
A polar bear and her cub walk across melting ice floes above the Arctic Circle north of Russia on Sept. 11, 2012, as sea ice continued to melt below the previous record set in 2007. On September 16, scientists determined that the sea ice had reached the minimum for the year, a loss of at least 45 percent since records began. This new record is not likely to stand long.
[caption id="attachment_10817" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="Polar Bears pass near the Arctic Sunrise"][/caption]
Daniel Beltr captured the September 2012 Photo of the Month with the Greenpeace Ship Arctic Sunrise beyond the bears. The combination of the iconic endangered species facing extinction as its habitat melts away and the ship's scientific mission at the sea ice edge to witness and measure the climate extreme is amazing.
There is the fragmented ice, too little for these bears to hunt. The dark water absorbs the heat of the late summer sun increasing the rate of melting. All this while politicians argue that global warming is a hoax, while Shell and Gazprom explore for oil in the Arctic Ocean. After a summer of massive wildfires, record heat and extreme drought. After 14 named tropical storms in the Atlantic, including a hurricane that hit the Gulf and brought BP oil up from the deep like a recurring zombie nightmare. After climate talks in Rio where world leaders, supposedly focused on finally taking action to avert catastrophic disaster, could not agree to take even one single action.
There is little hope for the future of the polar bear. If we don't take action to slow down climate change, there may not be hope for our children and grandchildren.