Arctic sea ice extent hits second lowest point in satellite era

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In the Arctic Ocean, sea ice reached its minimum extent of 1.44 million square miles (3.74 million square kilometers) on Sept. 15 – the second-lowest extent since modern record keeping began.
Credit: NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio

BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — On Sept. 21, 2020 the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) and NASA released preliminary results from satellite analysis indicating Arctic sea ice hit its annual minimum on Sept. 15. At an extent of 1.44 million square miles (3.74 square kilometers), it is the second lowest minimum on record since the beginning of the satellite era in 1979. The lowest occurred in 2012.

This graph shows how similar the 2012 and 2020 Arctic sea ice melt seasons have been, and how drastically they both departed from average.
Source: Climate Central/NSIDC

“It was just really warm in the Arctic this year, and the melt seasons have been starting earlier and earlier…The earlier the melt season starts, the more ice you generally lose.”

Nathan Kurtz, Sea Ice Scientist: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

While the data is still preliminary, and scientists at both NASA and the NSIDC note more melting could occur with late season wind shifts as has in the past, the announcement adds to a growing concern for our changing climate. Over the 42 year satellite era (1979-2020), Arctic sea ice extent has declined 13.4 percent per decade relative to the the 1981 to 2010 average. In addition, the last 14 years have seen the 14 lowest sea ice extents on record.

Northern hemisphere warmest summer on record
Global temperatures compared to the 1981-2010 climatological average show Summer (Winter) in the Northern (Southern) Hemisphere fell above average for most.
Courtesy: NOAA/NCEI

The announcement comes after the United States recorded its fourth hottest Meteorological Summer (Jun. 1 – Aug. 30) on average according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Experts at NOAA also confirmed this was the hottest on Meteorological Summer on record for the Northern Hemisphere as a whole.

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