On September 9 scientists from NASA and the NASA-supported National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at the University of Colorado in Boulder showed satellite data that capped summertime sea ice coverage at the second lowest ever recorded since records were first kept. Seen below marked out in yellow is the 30 year average, while the red line represents the opening of the Northwest Passage shipping lane.
Joey Comiso, senior scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., said the continued low minimum sea ice levels fits into the large-scale decline pattern that scientists have watched unfold over the past three decades.
“The sea ice is not only declining, the pace of the decline is becoming more drastic,” Comiso said. “The older, thicker ice is declining faster than the rest, making for a more vulnerable perennial ice cover.”
While the Arctic sea ice extent did not reach below the 2007 record – sitting at 4.33 million square kilometers (1.67 million square miles) – the sea ice area as recorded by the microwave radiometer on NASA’s Aqua satellite did measure below the 2007 levels for approximately 10 days in early September. Area differs from extent in “that it equals the actual surface area covered by ice, while extent includes any area where ice covers at least 15 percent of the ocean.”
Source: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center