Arctic Sea Ice 12th-Lowest on Record


Sea ice covered more area this summer compared to recent years, but it was also much thinner.

Sea ice in the Arctic Ocean and neighboring basins appears to have hit its annual minimum extent on September 16, 2021, after waning in the spring and summer. The summertime extent is the twelfth lowest in the satellite record, according to scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center and NASA.

The map at the top of this page shows the sea ice extent on September 16, 2021. The ice extent (white) on that day—defined as the total area in which the ice concentration is at least 15 percent—measured 4.72 million square kilometers (1.82 million square miles)—higher than recent years. Sea ice extents in 2020 and 2019 were the second and third lowest on record at 3.74 million square kilometers in 2020 and 4.14 million in 2019.

Less sea ice melted in 2021 even as the planet as a whole was warmer than usual—with new temperature records in North America and Eurasia, drought in the U.S. West, and episodes of intense melting on Greenland’s ice sheet.

Continue reading at NASA Earth Observatory

Image via NASA Earth Observatory