Winter Maximum Sea Ice Extent in Arctic at All Time Low

By Jay T. Cullen

In preparation for our upcoming Arctic field season we have been paying attention to sea ice conditions in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago and the Beaufort Sea.  Over the course of the northern hemisphere winter sea ice forms and spreads across the Arctic Ocean reaching farther and farther south.  Maximum extent of the ice is normally recorded in late February to early March of every year.  This year the maximum ice extent was the smallest ever measured since the scientific community began to keep records of sea ice extent.

Area of the Arctic Ocean covered by at least 15% sea ice for 2015 (solid blue line) compared with 2012 (dashed - year of record minimum extent) and the average from 1981–2010 (black line). Figure from NSIDC

Area of the Arctic Ocean covered by at least 15% sea ice for 2015 (solid blue line) compared with 2012 (dashed – year of record minimum extent) and the average from 1981–2010 (black line). Figure from NSIDC

The following video was released by NASA explaining the situation:

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