Arctic sea-ice is melting away. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

January hits new record low sea ice extent

Arctic sea ice extent was 90,000 square kilometers below previous record low that occurred in 2011.
February 05, 2016

Especially the Barents-, Kara- and East Greenland Sea had unusually large areas with open waters.

The Arctic sea ice extent for January 2016 was 13,53 million square kilometers, according to analysis made by the National Snow & Ice Data Centre, based in Colorado, USA.

The researchers at the center explain the new record low with the unusually high air temperatures over the Arctic Ocean and a strong negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation for the first three weeks of January.

Also early winter had one heat wave after the other in the High Arctic. As the Independent Barents Observer reported, Longyearbyen on Svalbard had 3,7 degrees Celsius over the normal temperature for October.

Just some few days after Christmas Eve, temperatures at the North Pole were above freezing, some 40 degrees Celsius warmer than normal. Temperatures at Longyearbyen in late December hit a record high to weird of +8,7 degrees Celsius. That was warmer than mid-July average temperatures for Svalbard.

The Arctic’s climate has never seen a warm year like 2015.

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