Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Arctic Sea Ice Reaches Second Lowest Yearly Minimum Ever Recorded in the Satellite Record

Each summer the ice cap in the Arctic melts to a point of lowest annual extent or "minimum" before the temperature once again drops, the sun falls below the horizon in the Arctic, and the sea ice once again regrows during the frigid fall and winter months. This first six months of this year have been the warmest in the recorded history of surface temperatures, a record that extends back to 1880. And relatively speaking, data shows that the increases in Arctic temperature are larger than the rest of the globe.

As a result, this year the Arctic sea ice appears to have reached its minimum on September 10th, decreasing to roughly 1.60 million square miles (or 4.14 square kilometers), or roughly 911,000 square miles below the 1981-2010 average, effectively tying with 2007 for the second lowest yearly minimum ever captured in the satellite record, which goes back to 1978.

The 2016 Arctic sea ice summertime minimum, reached on Sept. 10. 
The 1981-2010 average minimum sea ice extent is shown here as a gold line.
Credits: NASA Goddard's Scientific Visualization Studio/C. Starr

It is even more striking in this animation ...

which shows the Earth rotating slowly as the Arctic sea ice advances over time from the prior sea ice maximum on March 24, 2016, through September 10, 2016 when the sea ice reached its annual minimum extent. 
Credits: NASA Goddard's Scientific Visualization Studio/C. Starr

For more information visit http://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2016/arctic-sea-ice-annual-minimum-ties-second-lowest-on-record

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