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Greenland Sea's Greatest Melt In 800 Years July 3, 2009
Satellite Image of Sea Ice
There has not been such little sea ice in the waters between Greenland and Svalbard since the year 1200.
Danish researchers say that the extent of sea ice between Greenland and Norway’s Svalbard Arctic islands is the lowest in at least 800 years.

By examining tree ring and ice core samples, as well as ship logs and harbor records, a team from the Niels Bohr Institute pieced together a picture of how much of the ice has existed since the year 1200.

Writing in the journal Climate Dynamics, lead author Aslak Grinsted says that the extent of the ice east of Greenland is lower now than even during the 13th century, which was an unusually warm period.

Sea ice during the “little ice age” around 1700-1800 was the most expansive in recorded history.

The melting and re-freezing of sea ice is influenced by a variety of conditions such as ocean currents, temperature, wind and previous freezings.

Grinsted notes there have been sudden changes in ice coverage throughout history, but the current low coverage is unprecedented.

He does not attribute any particular cause to the current trend of retreating sea ice.

Image: NASA Goddard Scientific Visualization Studio