Arctic Sea Ice as Seen From NASA P-3B Credit: Michael Studinger/NASA
Arctic sea ice reaches its minimum each September. September Arctic sea ice is now declining at a rate of 12.8 percent per decade, relative to the 1981 to 2010 average.
This graph shows the average monthly Arctic sea ice extent each September since 1979, derived from satellite observations.
The animated time series below shows the annual Arctic sea ice minimum since 1979, based on satellite observations. The 2012 sea ice extent is the lowest in the satellite record.Still, while 2017’s summer melt season didn’t break the record, it falls far below the 1981 to 2010 median extent by over 1.58 million square kilometers (610,000 square miles). Moreover, surface cover isn’t everything when it comes to the state of the Arctic — what experts say matters most is the total volume of ice — a combination of thickness and extent, and 2017 saw summer volumes among the lowest ever recorded.