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Increase in Arctic Multi-Year Sea Ice from 2013-14

April 10, 2014; 3:36 PM ET

The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) reported last week that there was an increase in the thicker, multi-year sea ice in the Arctic between the end of February 2013 and 2014.

Imagery from the European Advanced Scatterometer shows the distribution of multiyear ice compared to first year ice for March 28, 2013 (yellow line) and March 2, 2014 (blue line). Image courtesy NOAA, NESDIS and the Canadian Ice Service.

During the summer of 2013, a larger fraction of first-year ice survived compared to recent years. This ice has now become second-year ice, according to the NSIDC.

This multi-year ice is critical to sustaining what is left of the Arctic sea ice later in the summer. Thinner, one-year or less ice is much more susceptible to complete loss by the end of the melt season.

The multi-year ice in the Arctic Basin increased from 2.25 to 3.17 million square kilometers during the year.

Multi-year sea ice made up a total of 30% of the Arctic icepack the previous compared to 43% this winter.

However, the experts at the NSIDC explain that one of the reasons for this increase may be due to the more extensive ice cover in September 2013 compared to the very low extent of September 2012.

Despite the above increase, the longer-term trend since the late 1980's shows a clear decrease in mult-year ice. (see NSIDC image below)

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or


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