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2014 Arctic Sea Ice Minimum Sixth Lowest on Record

Date: 09/22/2014
Category: Mission News & Science
By: Andy Shaner


Arctic sea ice coverage continued its below-average trend this year as the ice declined to its annual minimum on Sept. 17, according to the NASA-supported National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

The graphic above illustrates the extent of arctic sea ice at its minimum for the year on Sept. 17, 2014. The red line in this image shows the 1981-2010 average minimum extent. Data provided by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency GCOM-W1 satellite. Image Credit: NASA/Goddard Scientific Visualization Studio. Click on the image to view a larger version.

Over the 2014 summer, Arctic sea ice melted back from its maximum extent reached in March to a coverage area of 1.94 million square miles (5.02 million square kilometers), according to analysis from NASA and NSIDC scientists. This year’s minimum extent is similar to last year’s and below the 1981-2010 average of 2.40 million square miles (6.22 million square km).

"Arctic sea ice coverage in 2014 is the sixth lowest recorded since 1978. The summer started off relatively cool, and lacked the big storms or persistent winds that can break up ice and increase melting," said Walter Meier, a research scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

“Even with a relatively cool year, the ice is so much thinner than it used to be,” Meier said. “It’s more susceptible to melting.”

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