2018 Arctic summertime sea ice minimum extent tied for sixth lowest on record

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Arctic sea ice likely reached its 2018 lowest extent on Sept. 19 and again on Sept. 23, according to NASA and the NASA-supported National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at the University of Colorado Boulder. Analysis of satellite data by NSIDC and NASA showed that, at 1.77 million square miles (4.59 million square kilometers), 2018 effectively tied with 2008 and 2010 for the sixth lowest summertime minimum extent in the satellite record.

Arctic sea ice reached its annual minimum extent Sept. 19, and then again on Sept. 23, 2018. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Kathryn Mersmann

Arctic sea ice, the cap of frozen seawater blanketing most of the Arctic Ocean and neighboring seas in wintertime, follows seasonal patterns of growth and decay. It thickens and spreads during the fall and winter and thins and shrinks during the spring and summer. But in the past decades, increasing temperatures have led to prominent decreases in the Arctic sea ice extents, with particularly rapid decreases in the minimum summertime extent. The shrinking of the Arctic sea ice cover can ultimately affect the planet’s weather patterns and the circulation of the oceans.

“This year’s minimum is relatively high compared to the