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What a Difference a Year Makes in the Arctic

August 27, 2013; 2:07 PM ET

The annual Arctic sea ice extent minimum that will likely occur next month will not be a record breaker like last year, as the main weather pattern this summer has been nearly opposite of the pattern during the summer of 2012.

Persistent low pressure centered near the pole has kept temperatures over a large portion of the Arctic much cooler this summer compared to what they were during the summer of 2012, leading to less melting of the sea ice. This summer's pattern has also caused the ice to spread out in a greater fashion, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).

A comparison of temperatures and surface pressure anomalies over the Arctic from 2012 to 2013. Image courtesy of the NSIDC.

Atmospheric conditions during the summer of 2012 caused an increase in southerly winds in some regions and an overall jump in temperatures.

Current Arctic sea ice extent versus the 30-year normal and the record low extent year of 2012. Image courtesy of the NSIDC.

This year's Arctic sea ice minimum is now projected to be very close to 5 million sq./km which is still well-below the 1981-2010 normal, but significantly higher than last year's record low minimum of 3.41 million sq/km and more in line with several annual minimums over the past decade.

Regardless of what the final extent is for this year, the long-term trends will continue to show a steady decrease in sea ice extent in the Arctic.

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


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