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Sep. 11, 2012

See Ya, Sea Ice.

by Lisa Gardiner

Click to enlarge images
In the Arctic Ocean, autumn doesn’t mean colorful leaves or harvesting pumpkins and apples. It means that the ice bobbing atop the sea around the North Pole is at its minimum after melting through the summer.
 
This autumn, new records are being set for the minimum amount of sea ice in the Arctic. On August 26, the extent of ice diminished to less than it has ever been -- at least in the 30 years we've been watching it with satellites.
 
And a new record has been set every day since then as the amount of sea ice continues to fall. On Sept 5, the amount of sea ice fell below 4 million square kilometers. It’s expected to keep declining until cooler temperatures of fall set in.
 
Spy on Arctic sea ice at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).
 
To answer your burning questions about ice and climate, check out Icelights from NSIDC.
 
A NASA Global Climate Change News Story puts this record setting in context:
"By itself it's just a number, and occasionally records are going to get set," NSIDC research scientist Walt Meier said about the new record. "But in the context of what's happened in the last several years and throughout the satellite record, it's an indication that the Arctic sea ice cover is fundamentally changing."
 
 
About Lisa Gardiner

Dr. Lisa Gardiner is a writer and content creator at Spark: Science Education at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. She likes how citizen science and social media get people involved in science and is a contributing editor at SciStarter.com.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Science Friday.

Science Friday® is produced by the Science Friday Initiative, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

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