February Arctic sea ice extent fourth lowest since 1979
Ice cover last month was 910,000 square kilometres less than same month in 1979
As Arctic sea ice heads towards its maximum extent for the year some time this month, its measured extent in February 2014 was the fourth lowest since 1979, the National Snow and Ice Data Centre said last week.
Ice cover in the Arctic averaged 14.44 million square kilometres, 910,000 square kilometres below the 1981 to 2010 average.
The lowest February measurement of Arctic sea ice extent in the satellite record occurred in 2005, the Colorado-based centre said.
Overall, Arctic sea ice grew slowly through February 2014.
There were periods of declining ice, likely related to changes in ice motion, the centre said.
Ice extent increased at an average daily rate of 14,900 square kilometres per day during the month.
But that is about 25 per cent slower than the 1981 to 2010 February average growth rate of 20,300 square kilometres per day.
As the maximum sea ice extent approaches, usually in the middle of March, the daily rate of ice growth is expected to slow.
Temperatures in the Arctic have been warmer than average, the centre noted, with temperatures ranging from four to eight degrees Celsius above average February.