Global climate change

Arctic sea ice has its second lowest annual maximum on record

By Brett Anderson, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
3/28/2018, 10:58:53 AM

The annual Arctic sea ice maximum extent for 2018 has likely been reached and will end up being the second lowest in the satellite record, which began in 1979.

The latest Arctic sea ice extent compared to normal (1981-2010 average extent for the date is the orange line)

The lowest annual maximum on record occurred in 2017.

The four lowest wintertime sea ice extents in the Arctic have all occurred in the last four years and are all well outside the range of historical values, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

A plot of the last four years of Arctic sea ice extent compared to the 1981-2010 average. All four years are well below the average.

The primary culprit for this string of low extents has been sustained periods of abnormally high temperatures in the region.

Summertime ice extent in the Arctic has not been above average since 2001.

"The Arctic is being hit in both winter and summer—climate change is really taking hold now," said NSIDC director Mark Serreze.


Data and graphs courtesy the NSIDC.

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


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Global climate change