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2012 Arctic Sea Ice is Already at Record Minimum.

GOOS Satellite and in situ data help to monitor Sea Ice in Arctic.

Sea IceThanks to data collected and disseminated by the Arctic Regional Ocean Observing System, by national observing efforts,information about the extent of the Arctic sea ice is reported every few days, providing an early warning of changing conditions in the Arctic Ocean.  Other updated observation data maybe accessed from the Arctic ROOS site at: Observations.   

   August 2012:  Another record breaking year for sea ice extent.  

 The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) are reporting minimal Arctic sea ice extent for this time of the year.  Even before the expected season for minimal sea ice, which usually occurs in September just before the Arctic begins to cool again, as the sun passes through equinox, the sea ice coverage is less than it was at this time in 2007, the year of the greatest sea ice meltback on record.

  The rapid meltback this year is probably due to anomolous weather patterns over the Arctic which have brought temperatures one to three degrees above the decadal averages for 1981-2010. As in previous years the Arctic Sea is opening up on the Atlantic side, north of Scandavian countries and Russia. During the first weeks of August of the ice has opened the NE passage along the coast of Russia.   









July 2011: by some measures, Arctic sea ice extent at a historic low, opening shipping routes from Europe to Asia. 

July 2011: By some integrated measures, Arctic sea ice extent was at a historic low for the month of July 2011, lower than its previous record in July 2007. Sea ice extent usually is at a minimum in September. While all products show low sea ice extent levels, they do not agree entirely, pointing to the need for work in intercomparison and data validation. Rosshydromet announced on 3 August 2011 that shipping lanes between the North Atlantic and the North Pacific via the Arctic were now open through September, reducing shipping distances by nearly two-thirds.


April 2011: The maximum sea ice formed in the winter season was less than the decadal averages by more than two standard deviations, and less than any recent year except 2007.   The significance of the smaller ice pack is that with less area of ice and a thinner sheet to melt, the meltback next September is likely to also be much lower than normal.  


Sept. 2010: Although June 2010 saw the lowest extent of sea ice in the Arctic for any June since satellite records began in 1979, the September minimum was not less than the 2007 minimum. Once again indicating that weather, not climate, accounts for extreme events. However the meltback is far greater than the historical average, and well outside the two standard deviation variation established over previous decades.

 June 2010: One of the greatest melt backs of Arctic sea ice to date, GOOS data has helped to describe and monitor in near real time the extent of Arctic Sea Ice.  A combination of warmer than average weather systems and a thinner than average ice sheet from last winter, may result in a record melt back of the Arctic Sea Ice this summer.  

"The September 2007 sea ice minimum was probably the lowest extent of sea ice aerial extent in the Arctic in 50 years, definitely since satellite observations began in 1979. Last week the sea ice cover fell below the recorded extent at the same time in 2007."  International Polar Year Science Conference Report 2010 

Sea Ice 

Read More: National Sea Ice Data Center sea ice Index and OOPC Sea Ice Information