Japan scientists warn Arctic ice melting fast

Ice breaks away from a frozen coastline near the Norwegian Arctic town of Longyearbyen April 23, 2007. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

TOKYO (Reuters) - Arctic ice is melting fast and the area covered by ice sheets in ocean could shrink this summer to the smallest since 1978 when satellite observation first started, Japanese scientists warned in a report.

Ice sheets in the Arctic Ocean shrank to the smallest area on record in late summer in 2007, researchers at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said in a report on the website (here).

“The sea ice in the Arctic Ocean has continued to shrink since the beginning of April in such momentum to approach last year’s levels,” they said in the report based on an analysis of satellite images.

The area covered with perennial ice in the Arctic Ocean has receded “drastically” in recent years, falling to nearly half the area observed in 2005, they said.

“The reduction of areas covered with perennial ice means the overall ice in the Arctic Ocean is thinner and thinner year after year,” the report added.

The researchers made no mention of human-fueled climate change that could be blamed for thinner Arctic ice.

The conservation group WWF said last month that Arctic ice may be melting faster than most climate change science has concluded.

WWF said that climate change has already affected all aspects of ecology in the Arctic, including the region’s oceans, sea ice, ice sheets, snow and permafrost.

Reporting by Teruaki Ueno; Editing by David Fox