The area of the ocean in the Arctic that is covered by ice reached its lowest level for the year at the end of the summer and tied for the second-lowest level since NASA and the National Snow and Ice Data Center began keeping records in the 1970s.
"On September 18, 2019, sea ice extent dropped to 4.15 million square kilometers (1.60 million square miles), effectively tied for the second-lowest minimum in the satellite record along with 2007 and 2016," wrote the NSIDC on its Website. "This appears to be the lowest extent of the year. In response to the setting sun and falling temperatures, ice extent will begin increasing through autumn and winter. However, a shift in wind patterns or a period of late-season melt could still push the ice extent lower."
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The 13 lowest Arctic ice extents all happen in the past 13 years
The NSIDC said this year's minimum extent was tied with 2007 and 2016 for the second-lowest, only behind 2012, which is the record minimum. The 13 lowest extents all happened during the last 13 years.
Ice in the Arctic Ocen tends to expand and thicken during the colder months of fall and winter and tends to thin during the warmer spring and summer months. But that hasn't been the case in the past decades because of rising temperatures, which has resulted in less sea ice throughout the year.
Ice coverage not rebounding
“This year’s minimum sea ice extent shows that there is no sign that the sea ice cover is rebounding,” said Claire Parkinson, a climate change senior scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “The long-term trend for Arctic sea ice extent has been definitively downward. But in recent years, the extent is low enough that weather conditions can either make that particular year’s extent into a new record low or keep it within the group of the lowest.”
The thinning of the ice floating atop of the Arctic Ocean shouldn't come as too much of a surprise to anyone following the warming of the planet.
In July a weather station in the Arctic Circle in Sweden recorded temperatures of 94.6 degrees Fahrenheit (or 34.8 degrees Celcius). What's more, the average Arctic sea level for July 2019 was the lowest its ever been, running 19.8% below average. Compare that to New York City's hottest temperature which was 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celcius) in July.