Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Climate Change March 04, 2016 - 1:10 pm

Another all time low for Arctic sea ice in February

U.S. data centre says February ice extent breaks record low in 2005

NUNATSIAQ NEWS
Monthly February sea ice extent for 1979 to 2016 shows a decline of 3.0 percent per decade. (NSIDC)
Monthly February sea ice extent for 1979 to 2016 shows a decline of 3.0 percent per decade. (NSIDC)
Arctic sea ice extent for February 2016 was 14.22 million square kilometers. The dark pink line shows the 1981 to 2010 median extent for that month. The black cross indicates the geographic North Pole. (COURTESY NSIDC)
Arctic sea ice extent for February 2016 was 14.22 million square kilometers. The dark pink line shows the 1981 to 2010 median extent for that month. The black cross indicates the geographic North Pole. (COURTESY NSIDC)

As we near the time of year when scientists usually record the maximum sea ice extent, the amount of ice currently in the Arctic is lower than ever.

The National Snow and Ice Data Centre, whose Colorado-based scientists measure Arctic sea ice as it grows and shrinks throughout the year, reported March 2 that sea ice was a satellite-record low for the second month in a row.

“The first three weeks of February saw little ice growth, but extent rose during the last week of the month,” the NSIDC reported.

“Arctic sea ice typically reaches its maximum extent for the year in mid to late March.”

Arctic sea ice for February averaged 14.22 million square kilometres which is 1.16 million square kilometres below the 1981 to 2010 long-term average of 15.4 million sq km.

This year’s February Arctic sea ice was 200,000 sq km below the previous record low for the month recorded in 2005. If you know your United States geography, that’s equivalent in size to the state of Nebraska.

Low points seem to be in the Barents and Kara seas, north of Norway and Russia, as well as the Bering sea and the East Greenland Sea. In fact, sea ice extent in the Barents and East Greenland seas decreased during February.

The NSDIC said in its update that according to other bodies such as NASA, January 2016 was ninth straight month of record-breaking high surface temperatures around the globe.

“The Arctic stands out, with surface temperatures more than four degrees Celsius above the 1951 to 1980 average,” NSDIC reported.

“These high temperatures were in part responsible for the record low sea ice extent observed for January.”

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