Based on the satellite record maintained by the National Snow and Ice Data Center, this year’s maximum is the tenth lowest in documented history.
“Arctic sea ice extent peaked at 14.88 million square kilometers (5.75 million square miles), a total area that is roughly 770,000 square kilometers (297,300 square miles) below the 1981–2010 average maximum,” reports NASA.
“Compared to the average maximum, the Arctic Ocean in 2022 is missing an area of ice equivalent to the states of Texas and Maine combined.”
Each year, Arctic sea ice reaches its maximum extent around March after growing through the winter months, and shrinks to its minimum extent in September. This annual pattern is reversed in the Southern Hemisphere, where Antarctic sea ice reaches its maximum extent in September.
“To estimate sea ice extent, satellite sensors gather data that are processed into daily images, with each image grid cell spanning an area of roughly 25 kilometers by 25 kilometers (15 miles by 15 miles),” explains NASA. “Scientists then use these images to estimate the extent of the ocean where sea ice covers at least 15 percent of the water.”
Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory