This graph shows Arctic sea ice extent on 31 May 2016, along with daily ice extent data for previous years. Graphic: NSIDC

By Bobby Magill
7 June 2016

(Climate Central) – Arctic sea ice shrank to its lowest level in 38 years last month, setting a record low for the month of May and setting up conditions for what could become the smallest Arctic ice extent in history, according to National Snow and Ice Data Center data released Tuesday.

“We didn’t just break the old May record, we’re way below the previous one,” NSIDC Director Mark Serreze said.

Compared to normal conditions, the Arctic ice cap was missing a Texas-sized slab of ice in May. It spread across 4.63 million square miles of the Arctic Ocean, Hudson Bay and adjacent areas of the North Atlantic — an area 224,000 square miles smaller than the previous low record for the month set in 2004. May’s record low follows four previous monthly record lows set in January, February and April.

Temperatures averaged about 3°C (5°F) above normal across the Arctic Ocean this spring. The warmth made daily sea ice extents average about 232,000 square miles smaller than during any May in the 38 years scientists have been gathering data using satellites. […]

Sea ice this year is melting at a pace two to four weeks faster than normal as pulses of warm air have been streaming into the Arctic from eastern Siberia and northern Europe and sea ice has retreated early from the Beaufort Sea. [more]

Arctic Sea Ice Breaks May Record . . . By A Lot


  1. Anonymous said...

    April 20th onward 37V GHz channel started to produce bad data-- What do you think?

    "Notice (04/21/2016): On 04/05/2016 a change in the solar panel position to shade the nitrogen tank on board the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) F-17 satellite was made. In doing so, the integrity of the vertically polarized 37 GHz channel (37V) of the Special Sensor Microwave Imager and Sounder (SSMIS) was compromised. This is a primary channel used in the NISE processing. On 04/13/16 an additional change in the solar panel position was made. This change had improved the problems we were seeing in the 37V GHz channel for data from April 13 to April 19; however, on April 20, the 37V GHz channel started to produce bad data again. Thus, data from April 20 onward should not be used until further notice."

    Near-Real-Time SSM/I-SSMIS EASE-Grid Daily Global Ice Concentration and Snow Extent


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