Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Arctic Sea Ice Update

August 16, 2011: Arctic sea ice at the crossroads
After a period of slow melt from late July through early August, Arctic ice extent is again declining at a brisk pace, but remains higher than for 2007, the record low year. Data also indicate continued thinning of the ice. With about a month left in the sea ice melt season, the amount of further ice loss will depend mostly on weather patterns.

Graph: Arctic sea ice extent on August 14, 2011 was 5.56 million square kilometers (2.15 million square miles). Map: The orange line shows the 1979 to 2000 median extent for that day. The black cross indicates the geographic North Pole. Sea Ice Index data.
—Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center

Overview of conditions
As of August 14, 2011, Arctic sea ice extent was 5.56 million square kilometers (2.15 million square miles), 2.11 million square kilometers (815,000 square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 average for that day, and 220,000 square kilometers (84,900 square miles) above the extent on that day in 2007.

Sea ice is low across almost all of the Arctic, with the exception of some areas of the East Greenland Sea. It is exceptionally low in the Laptev and Kara Sea areas.

The southern route of the Northwest Passage, now appears to be free of sea ice according to imagery from the University of Bremen and the NSIDC Multisensor Analyzed Sea Ice Extent (MASIE) analyses. However, U.S. National Ice Center analyses indicate that there may be up to 20% ice concentration remaining in some parts of the route .

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