Sea ice update


On September 9, 2011 sea ice extent dropped to 4.33 million square kilometers (1.67 million square miles). This appears to have been the lowest extent of the year, and may mark the point when sea ice begins its cold-season cycle of growth. However, a shift in wind patterns or late season melt could still push the ice extent lower.

This year’s minimum was 160,000 square kilometers (61,800 square miles) above the 2007 record minimum extent, and 2.38 million square kilometers (919,000 square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 average minimum. Note that our estimated uncertainty for extent is plus or minus 50,000 square kilometers (about 20,000 square miles). The minimum ice extent this year is very close to 2007, and indeed some other research groups place 2011 as the lowest on record. At this point, using our processing and sensor series, the 2011 minimum is a close second.


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