Credit: NASA/Kathryn Hansen

A new study by scientists at the National Centre for Atmospheric Science at the University of Reading attributes the dramatic reduction in Arctic summer sea ice since the 1970s to human activity.

The study found that the 40% loss since the 70s is at least 70% man made, with the rest down to natural variability in the Atlantic. And that is only a conservative estimate, with as much as 95% of ice loss estimated to be caused by humans.

The study’s leader, Jonny Day, is quoted in the Guardian on one of the accelerating causes of Arctic ice melt, which relates to climate change:

[There is] something called the ice-albedo feedback, which means that when you have less ice, it means there’s more open water and therefore the ocean absorbs more radiation and will continue to warm.

Though the Arctic warming trend is disastrous for the region’s wildlife, fossil fuel and shipping companies are rubbing their hands at the ice melt, as areas for drilling for oil and gas open up and new, shorter sea routes are created.

Fossil fuel giant Shell can’t wait for more ice melt. They may have jumped the gun on an extended drilling season in the Bering Sea off western Alaska, as ice cover there is more extensive than expected. Shell is also struggling to meet emissions standards for air quality and has requested the US Environmental Protection Agency to increase its limits on nitrogen oxides and eliminate its limits on ammonia emissions. What development wants – development usually gets.

Read more on that story from Reuters.

Meanwhile in Greenland, ice melt has also gone way up. From the 8th to 12th of July, surface snow and ice melt increased from 40-97%. Though the melting corresponds with climate scientists predictions of Greenland’s melting sea ice and glaciers, NASA scientists have cautioned against linking the situation to climate change, since according to ice core data, similar melting periods occur every 150 years.

See Al Jazeera for more.