The good news: there has been a dramatic increase in Arctic sea ice. The bad news: it's still half the level is was in the 1980s

Even worse, the rebound is probably only a temporary respite

Science Editor

A A A

The volume of the sea ice floating in the Arctic Ocean increased by about 50 per cent in October compared to the same period of 2012, which was one of the lowest on record, scientists said.

Europe's CryoSat satellite, which is designed to monitor sea-ice thickness, measured about 9,000 cubic kilometres of sea ice in October 2013, a notable increase compare to the 6,000 cu km seen in October last year.

Scientists said that the rebound probably marks a temporary respite for the polar region, which has seen dramatic and long-term changes in recent decades due to regional warming that has melted Arctic ice on both land and sea.

The extent of the surface area covered by sea ice - measured by a different satellite - also saw an increase on the previous year, however it was still the sixth lowest since satellite records began in 1979. The seven lowest recorded sea-ice extents have all occurred in the last seven years.

Sea ice naturally increases from about mid-September to March and then recedes again during the warmer summer months. However, measurements from satellites and nuclear-powered submarines all show a significant long-term average decline in both sea ice volume and surface area extent over the past four decades.

Although last October saw a significant return of the sea ice compared to the previous October, it was still less than half the estimated volume of the same time period in the early 1980s, said Professor Andrew Shepherd from University College London.

"The 9,000 cubic kilometres we measured in October is still very much smaller than the 20,000 cubic kilometres we estimate for the same time in the early 1980s. So today's minimum still ranks among the lowest for the past 30 years," Professor Shepherd said.

"The October figure is still a significant result and it's not to be underestimated, but it's not an unexpected result. We do see year-to-year variations in the sea ice due to changes in weather patterns," he said.

The European Space Agency's Cryosat satellite, which has been operating for four years, found that 90 per cent of the rebound was due to sea ice that had survived the summer melt season, the so-called "multiyear" ice. Just 10 per cent was first-year ice that had newly formed.

It found that the multiyear ice, which is generally thicker than single-year ice, is now on average about 20 per cent or around 30 centimetres thicker than the previous year, said Rachel Tilling the UK's Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling, who led the study.

"One of the things we'd noticed in our data was that the volume of ice year-to-year was not varying anything like as much as the ice extent - at least in 2010, 2011 and 2012. We didn't expect the greater ice extent left at the end of this summer's melt to be reflected in the volume. But it has been, and the reason is related to the amount of multiyear ice in the Arctic," Dr Tilling said.

An Arctic "report card" for 2013, presented to the American Geophysical Union last week, found that the long-term trends in the polar region continued to show that it is warming rapidly and as a result has experienced dramatic changes, such as decreased snow cover, melting permafrost and diminishing ice both on land and sea.

"The Arctic Report Card presents strong evidence of widespread, sustained changes that are driving the Arctic environmental system into a new state and we can expect to see continued widespread and continued changes in the Arctic," said Martin Jeffries, of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

David Kennedy, deputy undersecretary for operations as the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said: "The Arctic caught a bit of break in 2013 from the recent string of record-breaking warmth and ice melts of the last decade. But the relatively cool year in some parts of the Arctic does little to offset the long-term trend of the last 30 years: the Arctic is warming rapidly."

News
The Edge and his wife, Morleigh Steinberg, at the Academy Awards in 2014
peopleGuitarist faces protests over plan to build mansions in Malibu
Sport
Cristiano Ronaldo in action for Real Madrid
football
Voices
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
News
In other news ... Jon Snow performed at last year's Newsroom's Got Talent charity event
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SSRS Report Developer - Urgent Contract - London - £300pd

£300 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: SSRS Report Developer – 3 Mon...

KS1 Teacher

£95 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Key Stage 1 teacher require...

HR Business Partner - Essex - £39,000 plus benefits

£32000 - £39000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Ashdown Group: Generalist HR Man...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel like your sales role...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?