This year could be worst ever for Arctic sea ice melt. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

Arctic sea ice extent reaches new record low

New data shows that May saw its lowest-ever sea ice extent, by a significant margin. By the height of summer, Arctic sea ice will be probably be at its lowest levels ever recorded.
June 09, 2016

Data published by the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) this week shows that average sea ice extent for last month was just 12 million square kilometers. This is well over a million square kilometers below the average for the month.

This is also more than half a million square kilometers smaller than in May 2012, the year that had the lowest ever September extent in the satellite record.

Although it is too early to say whether this summer’s ice extent will be the lowest recorded, if current projections follow the course of previous years then it will be at least one of the lowest ever.

Spring in the Arctic has been unusually warm this year, and ice melt is this two to four weeks ahead of levels seen in 2012, NSIDC writes.

An unusually early retreat of sea ice in the Beaufort Sea and pulses of warm air entering the Arctic from eastern Siberia and northernmost Europe are in part driving below-average ice conditions. 

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