Arctic Sea Ice Area Melt Pauses, Sea Ice Extent Shrinks to 3.63 Million Square Kilometers

Today sea ice area held near yesterday’s record low of 2.37 million square kilometers. Sea ice extent, on the other hand, fell to a new low of 3.63 million square kilometers.  This new extent record is 620,000 square kilometers below the previous record set in 2007. It is a 15% drop since that year and a 64% drop since the mid 1950s.

Melt rates nearing the end of season 2012 do appear to be slowing. But the rate of melt is still far more rapid than average. More rapid, even, than the record melt during the year 2007. And though it does appear that melt is slowly leveling off, it seems increasingly possible that this year could rival 2007 for its duration.

Total departures from previous record lows are as follows (previous record year in parenthesis):

JAXA Extent: -620,000 square kilometers (2007)

Cryosphere Today Area: -533,000 square kilometers (2011)

PIOMAS Volume: -400 cubic kilometers (2011)

NSIDC Extent: -630,000 square kilometers (2007)

Usually the melt season ends on September 15th. Melt can end as soon as late August or continue on into early October. Current melt trends indicate a likelihood for continued melt at least until the 15th. With 9 days remaining, it seems likely that final melt numbers will be in the range of 600,000 to 800,000 square kilometers below the records set in 2007 and 2011. Sea ice volume may touch 800 cubic kilometers below the value set in 2011.


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