Below is the latest computer generated image of the Arctic sea ice extent as of July 28th, 2013. Image courtesy of the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).
The orange line shows the average extent for the 1981-2010 period.
As of July 28th, 2013 the the sea ice extent was dropping at a normal rate, but is still running well below the 1981-2010 average, though not to the extent as last year's record setting melt off. Image courtesy of the NSIDC.
At the current rate, which of course can fluctuate between now and September, it appears that this year will either end up as the 2nd or 3rd lowest minimum in the satellite record.
Each month, a sea ice minimum forecast is issued for the Arctic. The forecast ensemble is based on three types of methods........statistical, modeling and heuristic. As of July, the average of the predictions was for a sea ice minimum extent of 4.0 million sq. kilometers for September (blue dashed line). The graph also shows the record minimum sea ice extent from 2012 (gray dashed line).
It's not all about the extent. Sea ice volume is actually a better indicator of the overall health of the sea ice. The Polar Sea Ice Center from the University of Washington estimates the volume of sea ice each month. As you can see, there continues to be a steady decline in the sea ice volume anomaly.
How is the Arctic sea ice volume compare to the four lowest years on record? Right now, looks like we are running fairly even with 2010, which had the third lowest volume on record. The lowest volume on record was set last year.
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This year could challenge 2012 for the lowest sea ice extent minimum in the satellite record for the Arctic region.
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