Global climate change

Older, thicker Arctic sea ice slowly disappearing

By Brett Anderson, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
5/17/2018, 3:18:29 PM

A new report from NOAA and the National Snow and Ice Data Center shows that older, thicker sea ice in the Arctic basin continues to be replaced by younger, thinner ice.

The researchers compared the amount of multi-year and first-year sea ice during March of 1984 with that of March 2018.

You can also view an animation of the change in sea ice thickness from 1979-2017 from the Polar Science Center.

Normally, Arctic sea ice reaches its annual maximum extent around early March.

In March of 1984, thicker, multi-year ice made up about 61 percent of the total Arctic sea ice pack. In March of 2018, multi-year ice only accounted for 34 percent of the Arctic sea ice pack.

Younger, thinner sea ice is much more susceptible to melting completely during the summer months compared to older, thicker sea ice.

Younger, thinner ice also allows more heat to escape from the ocean to the atmosphere, which in turn helps raise Arctic temperatures.

Only 2 percent of the Arctic sea ice pack in March of 2018 was at least 5 years old, which is the lowest in the satellite record going back to 1979.

Bering Sea Ice update

Image courtesy Rick Thoman (NOAA)

Sea ice extent in the Bering Sea during mid-May was only 5 percent of normal! What was left of the ice was mainly confined to protected areas near the shore. according to the NOAA's Rick Thoman in Alaska.

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


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Global climate change