Thoughts on the ocean, the environment, the universe and everything from nearly a mile high.

Panorama of The Grand Tetons From the top of Table Mountain, Wyoming © Alan Holyoak, 2011

Monday, September 24, 2012

2012 Arctic Sea Ice Melt Shatters 2007 Record

Arctic sea ice extent -  A NEW RECORD MINIMUM

On 19 September the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) released a preliminary report stating that the 2012 minimum sea ice extent in the Arctic was probably reached on 16 September 2012.  On that date the sea ice extent was 3.41 million km2.  That sea ice extent smashed the previous record minimum sea ice extent from 2007 by 760,000 km2.

The map below shows the sea ice extent on 9/16/2012 when it was at its minimum (white area).  The orange lines show the 1979-2000 average for sea ice extent.

What percent of sea ice cover remained of the historical 1979-2000 average at the end of this year's melt season?  Just over 51%.  That's right, the Arctic sea ice was nearly half gone at the end of the melt season.

Again, some people might argue that the sea ice extent minimum might have been a fluke random event, but that is looking less and less likely.  When we look at the past several years' sea ice minimum data they ALL fall below the 1979-2000 average.  The graph below shows the sea ice minimum extents for all the years 2007-2012.  The likelihood of this many years of sea ice minima below the average by random chance alone is just 1.56%.

And this table shows the actual sea ice extent data:

To wrap things up, "Is the climate change house on fire?" Should we be alarmed?  Look at the data and reach your own conclusion - and these data are just the tip of the iceberg.

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