NASA animation shows steady Arctic sea ice shrinkage from March to September 2015 minimum

Arctic sea ice attained its lowest extent of the 2015 melt season last Friday, September 11.  The National Snow and Ice Data Center said ice spanned the 4th smallest area of the satellite era, which dates back to 1978.

The 10 lowest extents on record have all occurred in the last 11 years according to NASA.

[Arctic sea ice is ‘far from recovering,’ just hit its fourth-lowest level on record]

Here are five visuals which present a compelling view of the shrinking Arctic ice cap:

1. Beautiful NOAA still image of the Arctic sea ice minimum compared to long-term average

Arctic sea ice minimum 2015. (NOAA)

Via NOAA: “The minimum … continued the long-term downward trend in Arctic ice extent.”

2. Low-tech representation of Arctic sea ice minimum with geographical labels

2015 sea ice minimum (UK Met Office)

Via the UK Met Office: “The long-term decline in summer sea ice extent has been linked to warming winter temperatures, wind-driven loss of multiyear sea ice and earlier loss of snow cover in the land bordering the Arctic Ocean – all of which serve to increase the vulnerability of the sea ice to melt during the summer.”

3. Chart showing 2015 minimum compared to other lowest minimums and the 1981-2010 average


Via NOAA: “This year’s minimum extent comes very close to the 2011 minimum (third lowest), and even close to the 2007 minimum (second lowest). The 2015 minimum also falls outside of two standard deviations of the 1981–2010 average.”

4. Fragmented Northwest Passage, August 31, 2015

Landsat image showing section of famed Northwest Passage where the ice had broken up on August 31, 2015. (NASA)

Via NASA: “[W]ith the warming of the Arctic and the shrinking of sea ice in the past three decades, the southern [section of the] passage is now open more often and for longer stretches of each summer…”

5. Projection of the vanishing Arctic sea ice by 2100 due to continued climate warming


Via the University Center for Atmospheric Research: “[T]he video shows that all the ice could disappear in some Septembers as early as mid-century if human-caused climate change continues unabated.”