Arctic Ice Melt on a Tear in Recent Weeks

Thus far in 2015, we have set new records for low Arctic sea-ice extent, during three timeframes:

  • March 4 through March 22,
  • April 6 through April 10, and
  • May 18 through June 9.

For the past two weeks, melt rate has accelerated and we may be setting up for another record to begin in the next month. The chart below shows sea-ice extent for each of the years 2011 through 2015. The all-time record year was 2012, marked with a black-dashed line. The gray shaded area shows +/- two standard deviations from the 1981-2010 average (black line). The gold line (1980) has been added for reference, showing when we were well above the average, and also showing the ongoing downward trend in Arctic sea ice.

(click on image to view current arctic ice data at NSIDC.org)

(click on image to view current arctic ice data at NSIDC.org)

While it can not be predicted how low this year’s sea-ice extent will fall, we do know that melt will continue for nearly two more months. The melt-season reliably ends in mid-September, when new seasonal ice begins to form.