Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Around the Arctic April 03, 2014 - 3:03 pm

Arctic sea ice at fifth lowest annual maximum: National Snow and Ice Data Center

More multi-year ice this year than last

NUNATSIAQ NEWS
Arctic sea ice extent for March 2014 was 14.8 million square kilometers (5.70 million square miles). The magenta line shows the 1981 to 2010 median extent for that month. The black cross indicates the geographic North Pole. (IMAGE COURTESY OF THE NSIDC)
Arctic sea ice extent for March 2014 was 14.8 million square kilometers (5.70 million square miles). The magenta line shows the 1981 to 2010 median extent for that month. The black cross indicates the geographic North Pole. (IMAGE COURTESY OF THE NSIDC)

Arctic sea ice reached its annual maximum extent March 21, after a brief surge mid-month, the Colorado-based National Snow and Ice Data Center reported April 2.

Overall, the 2014 Arctic sea ice maximum extent was the fifth lowest in the 1978 to 2014 record, the NSIDC said.

Arctic sea ice extent for March 2014 averaged 14.8 million square kilometres.

This comes in 730,000 square kilometres below the 1981 to 2010 average extent, but 330,000 square kilometres above the record March monthly low, which occurred in 2006.

In the Arctic, the maximum extent for the year is reached, on average, around March 9.

However, the timing varies considerably from year to year, the NSIDC said.

The good news in 2014: the extent of multi-year ice within the Arctic Ocean is “distinctly greater” than it was at the beginning of last winter.

During the summer of 2013, a larger amount of first-year ice survived compared to recent years. That ice has now become second-year ice.

This winter, multiyear ice makes up 43 per cent of the icepack compared to only 30 per cent in 2013.

That’s still less than that at the beginning of the 2007 melt season, when a large amount of multi-year ice melted.

The percentage of the Arctic Ocean ice that is at least five years or older now stands at only seven per cent, half of what it was in February 2007.

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