See a Shrink: Arctic Sea Ice Recedes to Fourth-Smallest Area on Record

↑ This image from NOAA’s Environmental Visualization Laboratory shows Arctic sea ice concentration on September 11, 2015. A yellow line shows the historical ice edge for September 11.

Arctic sea ice isn’t melting anymore! But only because winter is coming… The National Snow and Ice Data Center announced earlier this week that the annual meltdown is likely over and that the summer (yet again) did a number on the region. Last Friday, Arctic sea ice measured in at 1.7 million square miles—that’s nearly 700,000 square miles less than the long-term average, making 2015’s minimum extent the fourth-lowest since the satellite record began in 1979.

The 2012 melt remains in the number one spot (followed by 2007 and 2011), but the latest shrinkage further reinforces that the slight rebound sea ice experienced in 2013 didn’t reverse an overall downward trend. The nine lowest extents have all occurred in the last nine years.

Even more troubling is the fact that the Arctic wasn’t especially warm or stormy this summer. This suggests that less ice is the new normal up north.


↑ Arctic sea ice extent as of September 14, 2015, along with daily ice extent data for 2014, 2012, 2011, and 2007 as compared to the historical average. Illustrated by NSIDC.

Clara Chaisson’s post first appeared in OnEarth.

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