Arctic sea ice shrank to its lowest level of the summer on September 10 and, according to data from both NASA and the US National Snow and Ice Data Center, the amount of ice tied 2007 for the second-lowest on record.
The sea ice extent on September 10 was measured at 4.1 million square kilometres, which is 2.4 million square kilometres below average.
Sea ice affects Arctic communities and wildlife and also helps regulate the planet’s temperature by influencing the circulation of the atmosphere and oceans.
“It was a stormy, cloudy and fairly cool summer,” said ice centre head Mark Serreze. “Historically, such weather conditions slow down the summer ice loss, but we still got down to essentially a tie for second lowest in the satellite record.”
Refreeze has begun
September tends to be the month when Arctic ice reaches its lowest level of the year.
Sea ice is frozen ocean water that melts each summer, then refreezes each winter. Arctic sea ice reaches its largest extent every March.
The extent of the Arctic sea ice has been annually measured since 1979. The ten lowest areas in the satellite era have all occurred in the last ten years. Globally, even though Antarctic sea ice has grown in size, sea ice has declined overall.
“It really suggests that in the next few years, with more warm conditions, we will see further losses,” said Ted Scambos the ice centre’s lead scientist.