The first study was conducted by a team of scientists lead by Joey Comiso from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. They found that sea ice melted at about 6 percent in each of the last two years. This is a dramatic increase when compared to a reduction of just 1.5 percent per decade since 1979. Comiso said it's "most likely a result of warming due to greenhouse gases."
The second study, lead by Son Nghiem from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, more specifically measured the rate at which perennial ice was melting. Perennial ice persists year round while seasonal ice melts in the summer and freezes again in the winter. Using NASA's QuikScat satellite, they found that perennial ice shrunk by 14 percent from 2004 to 2005. That's roughly equivalent to 280,000 square miles, or about the size of the state of Texas. Previous studies found that perennial ice was shrinking at rate of just 9 percent per decade from 1979 to 2003.
Nghiem points out that one of the immediate problems with such a rapid loss of perennial ice is that it has a higher albedo than seasonal ice. Meaning perennial ice has the ability to reflect more light per square foot. He says that if perennial ice continues to decline the consequences could result in the acceleration of global warming.