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‘Surreal’ Melt Season Begins in Arctic Sea

Posted by feww on March 26, 2013

Arctic Sea ice reaches annual maximum extent at 15.13mkm²

Arctic sea ice likely reached its maximum extent for 2013, at 15.13 million square kilometers (5.84 million square miles), the 6th lowest in satellite record, the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) reported.

sea ice extent - nsidc
Arctic sea ice extent on March 15 was 15.13 million square kilometers (5.84 million square miles). The orange line shows the 1979 to 2000 median extent for that day. The black cross indicates the geographic North Pole.  —Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center.

The maximum ice extent was 733,000 km² below the 1979 to 2000 average of 15.86 million square kilometers.

  • The maximum occurred on March 10, five days later than the 1979 to 2000 average date of March 10.
  • The 2013 maximum ice extent was the 6th lowest in the satellite record, said NSIDC.
  • The lowest maximum extent occurred in 2011; ten lowest maximums have occurred in the last ten years (2004 – 2013).

ASIE- 15pct ice
Arctic sea ice extent as of March 24, 2013, along with daily ice extent data for the previous five years. 2012 to 2013 is shown in blue, 2011 to 2012 in green, 2010 to 2011 in pink, 2009 to 2010 in navy, and 2008 to 2009 in purple. The 1979 to 2000 average is in dark gray. The gray area around this average line shows the two standard deviation range of the data. —Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center

Over the 2012 to 2013 winter season, sea ice extent grew a record 11.72 million square kilometers (4.53 million square miles). The record growth was primarily a result of the record low minimum last September, leaving a greater extent of ocean surface uncovered in ice to re-freeze this winter. This seasonal ice gain is 645,000 square kilometers (249,000 square miles) higher than the previous record (2007 to 2008) and 2.63 million square kilometer (1.02 million square miles) higher than the 1979 to 2000 average. Last autumn’s record low and this winter’s record ice growth indicate a more pronounced seasonal cycle in Arctic sea ice and the increasing dominance of first-year ice in the Arctic. —NSIDC

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