What Happens in the Arctic Doesn’t Stay in the Arctic
Arctic sea ice extent dropped to the lowest level ever recorded, bottoming out at 3.41 million square kilometers on September 16, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). That’s 49 percent below the average minimum recorded during the 1980s and 1990s.
Scientists are confident that this trend is due to pollution. While there are year-to-year fluctuations in the location and extent of arctic sea ice, driven primarily by wind patterns, the best estimates are that the minimum extent never dropped below 9.8 million square kilometers in the first half of the 20th Century and probably not below 9 million in the last 1000 years. Since around 1950 there has been a clear trend toward less ice, with the minimum extent dropping below 4 million square kilometers for the first time this year. Read more.
Image: NASA (with 1979 boundary redrawn by NRDC)