Global climate change

Global sea ice update

By Brett Anderson, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
4/10/2019, 1:15:22 PM

Arctic sea ice reached its annual maximum extent on March 13. The overall extent was tied with 2011 for the seventh lowest in the satellite record going back to 1979, according to the National Snow and ice Data Center (NSIDC).

Image courtesy the NSIDC.

The sea ice extent in the Arctic has been in rapid decline over the past couple of weeks and is currently running well below normal and significantly below the 2012 record-low minimum extent curve. This does not imply that 2019 will end up with a lower minimum extent than 2012. Many factors can impact the rate of decline over the next several months.

The NSIDC report also noted that record low sea ice extents were achieved in the Bering Sea.

Sea ice extent in the Bering Sea reached its annual maximum in late January, which is extremely early. The normal maximum sea ice extent in the Bering Sea normally occurs in late March or early April.

This year's annual maximum extent in the Bering Sea was a whopping 34.5 percent below the 1981-2010 average maximum extent.

The report also noted that the increasing open water season in the Arctic is reducing the amount of annual snow being accumulated on the sea ice.

Snow on the sea ice plays important roles such as influencing rates of thermodynamic ice growth each winter, melt pond development in summer, melt water input to the upper oceans and impacts the amount of sunlight that is able to penetrate the ice.

Antarctic sea ice extent

In the south, Antarctic sea ice extent reached the annual minimum on March 1. The minimum extent was the seventh lowest in the satellite record.

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


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Global climate change