While much attention has been given to yearly measurements of sea ice area and extent, the Polar Science Center has been keeping track of another key figure: volume. And while extent and area has tended to fluctuate along an overall downward trend, sea ice volume has been in decline year after year for many years running.
Area and extent are both measures of ice visible from above. Volume, on the other hand, adds in thickness. And what we’ve seen over the past decade is that the ice in the Arctic is growing very thin indeed.
This year is no exception. Data from the polar science center has shown that summer volume measures have continued to decline from the record lows set last year. And, unless the rate of decline begins to abate soon, sea ice volume may approach zero during summer before the end of this decade.
As you can see from the graph below, volume losses are even greater than what would have been expected from trends established before 2005 and current lows are well outside the range of statistical deviation.
Anyone keeping track of sea ice as a measure of climate change impacts would be wise to keep an eye to volume measurements as well. And the Polar Science Center currently provides the best data available.