Signaling the intensity of global warming, the Arctic sea ice levels have come down to a record low of 5.57 million square miles, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Colorado.
That is less than 35,000 square miles compared with the level in 2015. In 2016, the situation was a tad better than 2015 as the ice levels were locked in a tie.
The sea ice expanse for years 2015 and 2016 was 14.5 million square kilometers with the average ice level standing at 15.6 million square km in the almost three-decade data from 1981 to 2010.
According to NSIDC, on March 7, the Arctic sea ice level reached the optimum area, recording the lowest ever sea ice level in the 38-year history of satellite record-keeping.
Concerns are high that the diminished sea ice will put the Arctic into a "deep hole" as the region may go ice-free when spring and summer melt season starts.
Worst Sea Ice Levels In Arctic
"It's a key part of the Earth's climate system and we're losing it," said Mark Serreze, director of the NSIDC.
He recalled his experience of tracking Arctic weather for 35 years and said there has been no such precedent as in the last two winters.
Unusually warmer temperatures have been gracing the Arctic in the winters, causing a drastic melting of ice. The temperature at the North Pole in the Christmas week was abnormally high, with a 50 degrees Fahrenheit record in an unusual trend.
Implications Of Falling Arctic Sea Ice
The sea ice levels in the Arctic are strategically linked to the ecosystem and the life of creatures like planktons and polar bears.
There are studies which have attributed the sea ice decline to natural changes but predominantly, the ice erosion is linked to climate change and the sharp buildup of atmospheric carbon dioxide.
Soaring Temperature And Thinning Ice
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has also declared that winter temperatures in 2017 have been the highest since 1900.
The data suggests a spurt of 2 degrees of temperature compared with the 1981 to 2010 average and by 3.5 degrees more than 1900. The same has been the case with the ocean off Greenland that recorded temperatures 5 degrees more than the average of 30 years.
Institutions like the European Space Agency and the Washington University have also observed the sporadic thinning of ice and shrinking of sea ice levels.
"Such thin ice going into the melt season sets us up for the possibility of record low sea ice conditions this September," noted Julienne Stroeve, a professor at London's University College.
In September, as the melting season ends, sea ice will become the lowest. The fall in sea ice level started breaking records in 2005 with the lowest data recurring in 2007 and five years later in 2012.
In Antarctica, the sea ice depletion also reached its lowest point of the year in March.