Arctic sea ice shrank to the lowest winter extent ever recorded, according to data released today by the US-based National Snow and Ice Data Center. The record-low ice level follows earlier news that 2014 was the warmest year since record keeping began.
An unusually warm February in parts of Alaska and Russia contributed to the record ice low. The winter reach of Arctic ice decreased 1.1 million square kilometres compared to the average maximum from 1981 to 2010. This represents an area more than twice the size of Sweden. Arctic waters freeze during the dark winter with sea ice reaching its maximum extent in March. The record announced today is a sign of thin, slow-growing ice. Less ice available to reflect the sun's heat means the sea absorbs more warmth, further worsening ice conditions over time.
(Source: Environmental News Network)