Arctic sea ice minimum is the second lowest on record. Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory shows the 2020 Arctic sea ice minimum, which is the second lowest on record.
The minimum sea ice extent, which was reached around September 15, measured 1.44 million square miles. The only other time that Arctic sea ice has fallen below 1.5 million square miles in the time of modern record keeping was in 2012.
According to measurements by NASA and the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at the University of Colorado Boulder, the 2020 sea ice minimum is nearly a million square miles lower than the average between 1981 and 2000.
“As the sea ice cover extent declines, what we’re seeing is we’re continuing to lose that multiyear ice,” said NSIDC director Mark Serreze. “The ice is shrinking in the summer, but it’s also getting thinner. You’re losing extent, and you’re losing the thick ice as well. It’s a double whammy.”
The Arctic (/ˈɑːrktɪk/ or /ˈɑːrtɪk/)[Note 1] is a polar region located at the northernmost part of Earth. The Arctic consists of the Arctic Ocean, adjacent seas, and parts of Alaska (United States), Canada, Finland, Greenland (Denmark), Iceland, Norway, Russia, and Sweden. Land within the Arctic region has seasonally varying snow and ice cover, with predominantly treeless permafrost (permanently frozen underground ice) containing tundra. Arctic seas contain seasonal sea ice in many places.
The Arctic region is a unique area among Earth’s ecosystems. The cultures in the region and the Arctic indigenous peoples have adapted to its cold and extreme conditions. Life in the Arctic includes zooplankton and phytoplankton, fish and marine mammals, birds, land animals, plants and human societies. Arctic land is bordered by the subarctic.
Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory