Climate Science News
Arctic sea ice extent declined at an approximately average rate through April. While the Arctic Oscillation was in its negative phase for most of winter, in mid April it turned positive. This helped to bring in warm air over Eurasia, although air temperatures over the sea ice cover remain below freezing.Overview of conditions
Sea ice extent averaged for the month of April 2013 was 14.37 million square kilometers (5.54 million square miles). This is 630,000 square kilometers (243,000 square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 average for the month, and is the seventh-lowest April extent in the satellite record.
In the earlier part of the satellite data record, average April extent remained above 15 million square kilometers (5.8 million square miles). Since 1989 the extent has mostly remained between 14 and 15 million square kilometers (5.4 and 5.8 million square miles). The years 1993 and 1999 were exceptions, when extent exceeded 15 million square kilometers (5.8 million square miles), as well as 2006 and 2007, when extent dropped below 14 million square kilometers (5.4 million square miles).
A large area of open water has started to form around Franz Josef Land and north of Svalbard. Polynyas are also appearing in the Kara and East Siberian seas.
The walrus and whaling season has begun in Arctic Alaska. The Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH) Sea Ice for Walrus Outlook (SIWO) is now providing weekly sea ice outlooks as a resource for Alaska Native subsistence hunters, coastal communities, and others interested in sea ice and walrus or whales. With spring sea ice conditions being thinner and less predictable than in the past due to warming in the Arctic, the sea ice outlook helps hunters plan their activities.Conditions in context
Through the month of April, the Arctic lost 1.5 million square kilometers of ice (444,000 square miles), which is slightly higher than the average for the month. Air temperatures at the 925 hPa level (approximately 3,000 feet above sea level) in April were 5 to 7 degrees Celsius (9 to 13 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than average in the East Siberian Sea and 3 to 5 degrees Celsius (5 to 9 degress Fahrenheit) higher than average in the Kara Sea. Temperatures were 3 to 5 degrees Celsius (5 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit) below average over Alaska. The dominant feature of the Arctic sea level pressure field for April 2013 was unusually high pressure over Alaska and Siberia and below average pressure over the Kara and Barents seas. During the middle of the month, the Arctic Oscillation switched from a negative to a positive phase, with anomalously high sea level pressure over Alaska combined with below average pressure over Greenland and the North Atlantic. This brought in warm air over Eurasia, and above average air temperatures throughout the eastern Arctic.
The reductions in April ice extent this year and over the satellite record are predominantly due to reduced ice cover in the Kara and Barents seas. In contrast, ice extent continues to remain slightly above normal in the Bering Sea.April 2013 compared to previous years
Average Arctic sea ice extent for April 2013 was the seventh lowest for the month in the satellite record. Through 2013, the linear rate of decline for April ice extent is -2.3 percent per decade relative to the 1979 to 2000 average.IceBridge Arctic flights
On 20 March 2013, NASA resumed Operation IceBridge aircraft missions over the Arctic. The IceBridge mission was initiated in 2009 to collect airborne measurements of sea ice and ice sheet thickness, to bridge the gap between NASA’s Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) and the upcoming ICESat-2 mission. This spring, areas not extensively covered in previous campaigns were a focus as well as flight tracks corresponding to the European CryoSat-2 satellite. Several successful flights were flown across the Beaufort and Chukchi seas in March and early April while the aircraft was stationed in Fairbanks, Alaska and Greenland’s Thule Air Base. Afterwards NASA’s P-3B aircraft was moved to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland for flights over the ice sheet. Towards the end of April, the aircraft was once again stationed in Thule, allowing additional ice sheet flights over the north central part of Greenland ice sheet and the resumption of sea ice flights over large portions of Arctic sea ice. The latter included a repeat of a 2012 flight line aimed at sampling a large region of the Canada Basin. This year’s Arctic IceBridge mission ended on 2 May, with the successful completion of ten sea ice and fifteen ice sheet flights.Earliest satellite maps of Antarctic and Arctic sea ice
While the modern satellite data record for sea ice begins in late 1978, some data are available from earlier satellite programs. NSIDC has been involved in a project to map sea ice extent using visible and infrared band data from NASA’s Nimbus 1, 2, and 3 spacecraft, which were launched in 1964, 1966, and 1969. Analysis of the Nimbus data has revealed Antarctic sea ice extents that are significantly larger and smaller than seen in the modern 1979 to 2012 satellite passive microwave record. The September 1964 average ice extent for the Antarctic is 19.7 ± 0.3 million square kilometers (7.6 million ± 0.1 square miles. This is more than 250,000 square kilometers (97,000 square miles) greater than the 19.44 million square kilometers (7.51 million square miles) seen in 2012, the record maximum in the modern data record. However, in August 1966 the maximum sea ice extent fell to 15.9 ± 0.3 million square kilometers (6.1 ± 0.1 million square miles). This is more than 1.5 million square kilometers (579,000 square miles) below the passive microwave record low September of 17.5 million square kilometers (6.76 million square miles) set in 1986.
The early satellite data also reveal that September sea ice extent in the Arctic was broadly similar to the 1979 to 2000 average, at 6.9 million square kilometers (2.7 million square miles) versus the average of 7.04 million square kilometers (2.72 million square miles).In memoriam
We dedicate this post to Dr. Katharine Giles, who was tragically killed cycling to work on 8 April 2013. Together with Dr. Laxon, Katherine Giles worked to retrieve sea ice thickness from satellite radar altimeter data. In 2007 she was the first to show that this data could also be used to show how winds affect the newly exposed Arctic Ocean. Since Dr. Laxon’s death earlier this year, Katharine worked hard to continue his legacy and supervise his students. We have lost yet another talented scientist and a great friend.Reference
Meier, W. N., D. Gallaher, and G. C. Campbell. 2013. New estimates of Arctic and Antarctic sea ice extent during September 1964 from recovered Nimbus I satellite imagery. The Cryosphere, 7, 699–705, doi:10.5194/tc-7-699-2013.
Arctic sea ice has passed its annual maximum extent and is beginning its seasonal decline through the spring and summer. While total extent was not at record low, it remained well below average through March. Ice fracturing continued north of Alaska, and the Arctic Oscillation was in a strongly negative phase during the second half of the month, with unusually high sea level pressure over almost all of the Arctic Ocean. Levels of multiyear ice remain extremely low. The ice is thinner, and satellite data suggests that first-year ice may now cover the North Pole area for the first time since winter 2008.Overview of conditions
Arctic sea ice extent in March 2013 averaged 15.04 million square kilometers (5.81 million square miles). This is 710,000 kilometers (274,000 square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 average extent, and 610,000 square kilometers (236,000 square miles) above the record low for the month, which happened in 2006. Continuing a trend in recent winters, ice extent was near or below average levels throughout most of the Arctic, with the exception of higher extent in the Bering Sea.Conditions in context
As Arctic sea ice reaches its maximum extent in March, the net gain or loss through the month tends to be small. This year, extent decreased 5,400 square kilometers (2,100 square miles) between the beginning and end of the month, with the decline in the second half of the month slightly outweighing the increase over the first half. Air temperatures (at the 925 mb level, or about 3,000 feet) were 3 to 6 degrees Celsius (5 to 11 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than average over the central Arctic Ocean, with cooler conditions compared to average (3 to 6 degrees Celsius, or 5 to 11 degrees Fahrenheit) over the Kara and Barents seas.
The circulation pattern known as the Arctic Oscillation (AO) reached an extreme negative phase in the second half of the month, associated with unusually high sea level pressure covering nearly the entire Arctic Ocean. The AO index , a measure of the state of the atmosphere over the Arctic, fell to as low as -5 sigma in mid March. This caps several months of a persistently negative AO. In the past, a negative AO in winter has been associated with the retention of thick ice in the Arctic Ocean and reduced export by drift into the Atlantic, favoring more extensive sea ice at the end of the summer melt season. However, in recent years, this relationship has not held and low summer extents have followed winters with strong negative AO. The month was also notable for continued fracturing of the ice cover in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas north of Alaska, as seen in a new animation by the NASA Earth Observatory . This is consistent with wind patterns associated with the strong negative pattern of the AO.March 2013 compared to previous years
Average ice extent for March 2013 was the fifth lowest for the month in the satellite record. Through 2013, the linear rate of decline for March ice extent is 2.5% per decade relative to the 1979 to 2000 average. While the percentage trend is lower than in the summer, the average rate of decrease is 39,800 square kilometers (15,300 square miles) per year, roughly the size of Maryland and Delaware combined.A record extent of first-year ice in the Arctic
Between the 2012 summer minimum and the 2013 winter maximum, sea ice extent increased 11.72 million square kilometers (4.53 million square miles), the largest increase in the satellite record. This was primarily due to the extreme record low ice extent in September 2012, which resulted in a near-record high first-year ice extent. This is evident in imagery from the Advanced Scatterometer (ASCAT) sensor on the European METOP-A satellite provided by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NOAA NESDIS). Analysis by Trudy Wohlleben at Environment Canada indicates that multiyear ice is relegated to areas far from the Alaskan and Eurasian coasts. Over the winter, some multiyear ice recirculated into the Beaufort Sea where significant melt of multiyear ice has occurred in recent summers. Also, some multiyear ice has been lost, as it moved out of the Arctic through Fram Strait. The boundary between primarily first-year ice and multiyear ice is now near the North Pole (indicated by the small black circle near the center of the image), marking the first time since the winter of 2008 that a substantial amount of first-year ice may be covering the pole as we enter the melt season.Oldest ice continues to decline
While multiyear ice used to cover up to 60% of the Arctic Ocean, it now covers only 30%. There is a slight rebound in the oldest ice (4+ years old), a remnant of the large amount of first-year ice that formed during the winter after the 2007 record minimum. However, most of that new ice has not survived through the subsequent years. The oldest ice now comprises only 5% of the ice in the Arctic Ocean. This is a slight uptick from last winter’s record low of 3%, but still far less than during the 1980s when old ice covered roughly 25% of the region.Satellite estimates show continued thinning
The ASCAT data and ice age data both suggest a continued thinning of the ice pack, and overall decline in its volume, but they do not provide direct information on ice thickness. However, the European Space Agency’s CryoSat-2 satellite, launched in April 2010, now provides estimates of sea ice thickness distribution across the Arctic Ocean. A new paper by Laxon et al. (2013) shows the first published results from CryoSat-2 and compares them with thickness estimates from NASA’s ICESat satellite, which operated from 2003 to 2009. The CryoSat-2 results indicate continued thinning since 2008. Significantly, ice along the north coast of Greenland appears to have thinned—in the past this has been the site of some of the thickest sea ice in the Arctic. The paper also shows that total volume estimates from CryoSat-2 agree well with University of Washington’s Pan-Arctic Ice Ocean Modeling and Assimilation System (PIOMAS) estimates.In memoriam
We dedicate this post to Seymour Laxon, who tragically passed away in early January. Laxon was a driving force behind the CryoSat-2 mission, a leading innovator in the development of sea ice altimetry, an outstanding scientist, and a great friend to the sea ice community, including the contributors to Arctic Sea Ice & News Analysis.Further reading
Laxon S. W. , K. A. Giles , A. L. Ridout , D. J. Wingham , R. Willatt , R. Cullen , R. Kwok , A. Schweiger , J. Zhang , C. Haas , S. Hendricks , R. Krishfield , N. Kurtz , S. Farrell, and M. Davidson. 2013. CryoSat-2 estimates of Arctic sea ice thickness and volume , Geophysical Research Letters , 40, doi: 10.1002/grl.50193 .
On March 15, 2013, Arctic sea ice extent appears to have reached its annual maximum extent, marking the beginning of the sea ice melt season. This year’s maximum extent was the sixth lowest in the satellite record. NSIDC will release a detailed analysis of the 2012 to 2013 winter sea ice conditions in early April.Overview of conditions
On March 15, 2013 Arctic sea ice likely reached its maximum extent for the year, at 15.13 million square kilometers (5.84 million square miles). The maximum extent was 733,000 square kilometers (283,000 square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 average of 15.86 million square kilometers (6.12 million square miles). The maximum occurred five days later than the 1979 to 2000 average date of March 10. The date of the maximum has varied considerably over the years, with the earliest maximum in the satellite record occurring as early as February 24 in 1996 and as late as April 2 in 2010.
This year’s maximum ice extent was the sixth lowest in the satellite record. The lowest maximum extent occurred in 2011. The ten lowest maximums in the satellite record have occurred in the last ten years, 2004 to 2013.Conditions in context
Over the 2012 to 2013 winter season, sea ice extent grew a record 11.72 million square kilometers (4.53 million square miles). The record growth was primarily a result of the record low minimum last September, leaving a greater extent of ocean surface uncovered in ice to re-freeze this winter. This seasonal ice gain is 645,000 square kilometers (249,000 square miles) higher than the previous record (2007 to 2008) and 2.63 million square kilometer (1.02 million square miles) higher than the 1979 to 2000 average. Last autumn’s record low and this winter’s record ice growth indicate a more pronounced seasonal cycle in Arctic sea ice and the increasing dominance of first-year ice in the Arctic.Final analysis pending
At the beginning of April, NSIDC scientists will release a full analysis of winter conditions, along with monthly data for March. For more information about the maximum extent and what it means, see the NSIDC Icelights post, the Arctic sea ice maximum. For previous analyses, please see the drop-down menu under Archives in the right navigation at the top of this page.
Arctic sea ice is nearing its winter maximum and will soon begin its seasonal decline. Ice extent remains below average, in part a result of the persistence of the negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation that has kept winter temperatures warmer than average. The Antarctic passed its summer minimum ice extent, reaching the second highest level in the satellite record at this time of year, primarily due to continued higher-than-average ice in the Weddell Sea.Overview of conditions
Average sea ice extent for February 2013 was 14.66 million square kilometers (5.66 million square miles). This is 980,000 square kilometers (378,000 square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 average for the month, and is the seventh-lowest February extent in the satellite record. Since 2004, the February average extent has remained below 15 million square kilometers (5.79 million square miles) every year except 2008. Prior to 2004, February average extent had never been less than 15 million square kilometers. Ice extent remains slightly below average everywhere except the Bering Sea.Conditions in context
Through the month of February, the Arctic gained 766,000 square kilometers of ice (296,000 square miles), which is 38% higher than the 1979 to 2000 average for the month. Air temperatures at the 925 hPa level were 2 to 5 degrees Celsius (4 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than average across the Atlantic sector of the Arctic, especially near Iceland and in Baffin Bay. Temperatures were lower than average by 2 to 6 degrees Celsius (4 to 11 degrees Fahrenheit) north of Greenland and the Canadian Archipelago, and in the Beaufort, Chukchi and East Siberian seas, linked to anomalously low sea level pressure over Alaska and Canada. The dominant feature of Arctic sea level pressure for February 2013 was unusually high pressure over the East Greenland and Barents seas, consistent with a predominantly negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation.February 2013 compared to previous years
Average Arctic sea ice extent for February 2013 was the seventh lowest for the month in the satellite record. Through 2013, the linear rate of decline for February ice extent is -2.9% per decade relative to the 1979 to 2000 average. Although the relative reduction in winter sea ice extent remains small compared to reductions in summer, the linear trend represents an overall reduction of more than 1.57 million square kilometers (606,000 square miles) from 1979 to 2013.Persistence of the negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation
As discussed in the January and February posts, sea level pressure in the Arctic has remained higher than average, resulting in persistence of the negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation (AO). During the negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation, enhanced poleward transport of warm air tends to keep temperatures in the Arctic above average. At the same time, the negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation allows for more cold Arctic air to intrude or mix with air at lower latitudes. These cold air outbreaks can result in low temperatures and increased storminess in mid latitudes.
The Arctic Oscillation also impacts sea ice movement in the Arctic. The negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation is linked to an increase in the strength of the Beaufort Gyre and reduced outflow of ice through Fram Strait. A negative AO used to help promote ice survival through summer by strengthening the Beaufort Gyre and thereby increasing the distribution of old, thick ice along coastal Alaska and Siberia. However, the location and strength of positive sea level pressure anomalies has varied throughout winter, with varied impacts on ice motion.
For example, during November (weak AO index of -0.111) positive sea level pressure anomalies were centered over the Bering Sea and Alaska, resulting in strong ice motion from the central Arctic towards coastal Canada and north of Greenland outwards towards Fram Strait. In December, the strong negative AO index of -1.749 was reflected in positive sea level pressure anomalies centered over the Kara and Barents seas, enhancing ice motion from the southern Beaufort into the Chukchi sea and out towards the Bering Sea. Export of ice out of Fram Strait was about average. Similar variations in positive sea level pressure anomalies have continued, with the largest positive anomalies over the central Arctic in January, and over the Barents Sea in February.
This pattern is similar to that observed during the extreme negative Arctic Oscillation year of 2009/2010, when old ice was transported into the southern Beaufort and Chukchi seas where it then melted out during summer 2010, further depleting the Arctic of its store of old, thick ice.Ice fracture
During the last couple of weeks of February, a broad area of sea ice has fractured off the coast of Alaska and Canada, extending from Ellesmere Island in the Canadian Arctic to Barrow, Alaska. This fracturing event appears to be related to a series of storms that moved across central Alaska starting on February 10, 2013, causing intense easterly winds along the coast and strong off-shore ice motion.* The large area of fractured ice is located in predominantly first-year ice, which is thinner and easier to fracture than thick, multiyear ice. Similar patterns were observed in early 2011 and 2008, but the 2013 fracturing is quite extensive. The animation (Figure 5) shows the progress of the fracturing, and the general strong rotation of the Beaufort Gyre ice motion pattern during late February. (See also this animation of the fracture from the AVHRR instrument, posted on the Arctic Sea Ice Blog.)
* Note: We originally attributed the fracturing event to a storm that passed over the North Pole, and stated “This fracturing event appears to be related to a storm that passed over the North Pole on February 8, 2013, creating strong off-shore ice motion.” We corrected this sentence after reexamining weather charts. The updated version now reads, “This fracturing event appears to be related to a series of storms that moved across central Alaska starting on February 10, 2013, causing intense easterly winds along the coast and strong off-shore ice motion.”Antarctic sea ice extent continues above average
The Antarctic sea ice minimum extent appears to have passed, on February 20. Ice was quite extensive throughout the austral summer period. Monthly average sea ice extent for February 2013 was 3.83 million square kilometers (1.48 million square miles) and minimum daily sea ice extent for the Antarctic region was 3.68 million square kilometers (1.42 million square miles) on February 20. Unusual circulation patterns, likely resulting from higher-than-average pressure in the Bellingshausen Sea, pushed sea ice in the northwestern Weddell Sea far to the north, as we mentioned in our February post. NASA’s Earth Observatory posted this image of ice in the Weddell Sea as Image of the Day for March 1st, 2013. Extent was also well above average for the Ross Sea region relative to the entire 1979 to 2013 satellite record.The Odden
Within the East Greenland Sea, an ice tongue about 1,300 kilometers (807 miles) in length, referred to as “The Odden” (Norwegian word for headland), would regularly form during winter months eastwards from the main East Greenland ice edge. The Odden would form in winter because of an eastward flow of very cold ocean waters in the Jan Mayen current and may have played an important role in winter ocean convection as new ice would form. It would form as early as December and as late as April and was present during the 1980s, a few times in the 1990s, and very rarely since 2000. While the Odden rarely formed in last two decades, there is frequently a small extension of ice along the Jan Mayen Ridge, which may indicate that eastward flow of cold ocean water is still occurring.
Sea surface salinity from SMOS and total currents (from OSCAR, Ekman + geostrophic). Credits Ifremer/Esa.Further information:
- Esa website: SMOS, the global success continues, with an animation superimposing the salinity and currents over the Gulf Stream.
- Image of the month, January 2013: Salinity gets finer with altimetry
Arctic sea ice extent for January 2013 was well below average, largely due to extensive open water in the Barents Sea and near Svalbard. The Arctic Oscillation also remained in a primarily negative phase. Antarctic sea ice remained extensive due to an unusual northward excursion of ice in the Weddell Sea. December of 2012 saw Northern Hemisphere snow cover at a record high extent, while January 2013 is the sixth-highest snow cover extent on record since 1967.Overview of conditions
The average sea ice extent for January 2013 was 13.78 million square kilometers (5.32 million square miles). This is 1.06 million square kilometers (409,000 square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 average for the month, and is the sixth-lowest January extent in the satellite record. The last ten years (2004 to 2013) have seen the ten lowest January extents in the satellite record.
As has been the case throughout this winter, ice extent in the Atlantic sector of the Arctic Ocean remained far below average. While the Kara Sea was completely iced over, nearly all of the Barents Sea remained ice free, and open water was present north of the Svalbard Archipelago. The lack of winter ice in the Barents Sea and the vicinity of Svalbard has been a common feature of recent years. Recent work by Vladimir Alexeev and colleagues at the University of Alaska Fairbanks provides further evidence that this is related to a stronger inflow of warm waters from the Atlantic as compared to past decades. On the Pacific side, the ice edge in the Bering Sea continued to extend slightly further to the south than usual.
Also, a new paper by Jinlin Zhang and colleagues at the University of Washington analyzed the effect of the strong August 2012 cyclone on last year’s record sea ice minimum. While they found a large effect in the immediate wake of the storm, the effect declined quickly and overall it had only a small effect on the final September minimum extent.Conditions in context
Through the month of January, the Arctic gained 1.36 million square kilometers of ice (525,000 square miles), which is slightly higher than average for the month. Air temperatures at the 925 hPa level were 2 to 5 degrees Celsius (4 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than average across much of the Arctic Ocean. Conditions were especially warmer than average near Svalbard where ice-free conditions persist. Below average temperatures characterized parts of northern Eurasia and northwestern Canada. The dominant feature of the Arctic sea level pressure field for January 2013 was unusually high pressure over the central Arctic Ocean, consistent with a predominantly negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation.January 2013 compared to previous years
Average Arctic sea ice extent for January 2013 was the sixth lowest for the month in the satellite record. Through 2013, the linear rate of decline for January ice extent is -3.2 percent per decade relative to the 1979 to 2000 average.Looking at Northern Hemisphere snow
As noted in a previous post, Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent for June 2012 set a record low, continuing a downward trend in springtime snow extent. Satellite data from the Rutgers University Global Snow Lab show that after Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent for December 2012 reached a record high for the month of 46.27 million square kilometers (17.86 million square miles), extent during January increased to a monthly average of 48.64 million square kilometers (18.78 million square miles). This was the sixth-highest January extent in the record, dating back to 1967. Snow cover was higher than average throughout much of the western United States as well as northern Europe and eastern China. Snow cover was lower than normal over the central U.S., and much of southern Asia, including the Tibetan Plateau.A visit to Antarctica
Turning to Antarctica, we note that January 2013 saw an unusual northward (towards the equator) excursion of sea ice in the Weddell Sea. The ice edge was found approximately 200 to 300 kilometers (124 to 186 miles) beyond its typical location. Overall, sea ice extent in the Antarctic was nearly two standard deviations above the mean for most of the month.
The cause of this is very unusual sea ice pattern appears to be persistent high pressure in the region west of the Weddell Sea, across the Antarctic Peninsula to the Bellingshausen Sea. This pressure pattern means that winds are tending to blow to the north on the east side of the Peninsula, both moving the ice northward and bringing in cold air from southern latitudes to reduce surface melting of the ice as it moves north.Intense Greenland surface melting inspires new Web site
In recent years, the surface of the Greenland Ice Sheet has experienced strong melting, but the 2012 melt season far exceeded all previous years of satellite monitoring, and led to significant amounts of ice loss for the year. NSIDC’s new Web site, Greenland Ice Sheet Today presents images of the widespread surface melt on Greenland during 2012 and scientific commentary on the year’s record-breaking melt extent.
Throughout the coming year, the site will offer daily satellite images of surface melting and periodic analysis by the NSIDC science team. NSIDC scientists at the University of Colorado Boulder developed Greenland Ice Sheet Today with data from Thomas Mote of the University of Georgia, and additional collaboration from Marco Tedesco of the City University of New York.
The Greenland Ice Sheet contains a massive amount of fresh water, which if added to the ocean could raise sea levels enough to flood many coastal areas where people live around the world. The ice sheet normally gains snow during winter and melts some during the summer, but in recent decades its mass has been dwindling.Further reading
Alexeev, V.A., Ivanov, V.V., Kwok, K., and Smedsrud, L.H. 2013. North Atlantic warming and declining volume of arctic sea ice. The Cryosphere Discussions 7, 245-265, doi: 10.519/tcd-7-245-2013.
Zhang, J., R. Lindsay, A. Schweiger, and M. Steele. 2013. The impact of an intense summer cyclone on 2012 Arctic sea ice retreat. Geophysical Research Letters, In press, doi: 10.1002/grl.50190.