Rapid Ice Loss in the Arctic Region

Sea ice is melting in the Arctic at near record rates. The chart below shows the area of Arctic Ocean covered with at least 15% sea ice. The wide grayish-blue band area shows a statistical average for the period 1981-2010. The solid line in the mid-range of this band is the yearly average for this thirty-year time period. Note that average sea ice area peaks in March each year, at around 15 million square kilometers; also, sea ice area declines to a minimum in late September each year, averaging around 6 million square kilometers.

The largest recorded melt in human history occurred in 2012, when the decline plummeted to around 3.5 million square kilometers. This is depicted by the dashed line.

And how are we doing this year? Look closely at the orange ellipse below. At its center, the gray line marks sea ice conditions for 2014 and is updated each day. Note the steepening line, indicative of a very high rate of melting. There are many variables in weather, but this year’s record-high temperature levels in northern hemisphere oceans, and the intensified flow of weather systems north to the pole area, will tend to further accelerate rates of polar warming. This means faster polar ice melting.

There is a high probability that 2014 will shatter the 2012 record with a new record low in Arctic sea ice extent. Sometime around September 20th, the results will be in. How low will we go … 2.5 million square kilometers?20140630.. Charctic Sea Ice Graph, steep decline

If you want to track this melting process, the graph is revised daily and viewable online at: http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/charctic-interactive-sea-ice-graph/

Also, the chart is interactive, so you can select other years for comparison. The other years showing the most extreme melt rates are 2007, 2010, and 2011.