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Shortest Arctic Melt Season on Record

September 16, 2010; 9:15 AM ET

Surprise! It appears that the Arctic has just experienced the shortest melt season in the satellite record.

According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, preliminary data suggest that this year's melt season will be 163 days. The melt season is defined as the period between the seasonal maximum extent and the seasonal minimum extent.

It appears that Arctic sea ice has already reached its annual minimum and is now starting the slow recovery.

As previously noted earlier this year, the melt season got off to a late start in the Arctic and it now looks like the minimum extent was reached on September 10th, which was a little earlier than just recently predicted.

This year's seasonal minimum extent in the Arctic was the 3rd lowest in the satellite record, coming behind 2007 and 2008. This continues the long-term trend of decreasing summer sea ice in the Arctic, according to the NSIDC.

The NSIDC image below compares differences in ice-covered areas between September 10, 2010, the date of this year's minimum, and September 16, 2007, the record low minimum extent. Light gray shading indicates the region where ice occurred in both 2007 and 2010, while white and dark gray areas show ice cover unique to 2010 and to 2007, respectively. (from the NSIDC).


When all the data for September are in, the NSIDC will confirm the minimum ice extent for the season.

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


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