Publication Date June 7, 2016

Arctic Sea Ice Breaks May Record . . . By A Lot

This graph shows Arctic sea ice extent as of May 31, along with daily ice extent data for previous years. Image: NSIDC

Arctic sea ice shrank to its fourth-lowest level in 50 years last month, setting a record low for the month of May and setting up conditions for what could become the smallest Arctic ice extent in history, according to National Snow and Ice Data Center data released Tuesday.

“We didn’t just break the old May record, we’re way below the previous one,” NSIDC Director Mark Serreze said...

Temperatures averaged about 3°C (5°F) above normal across the Arctic Ocean this spring. The warmth made daily sea ice extents average about 232,000 square miles smaller than during any May in the 38 years scientists have been gathering data using satellites. Overall, it was the fourth-lowest sea ice extent in the 50-year record.

The Arctic, which saw unusually warm temperatures near-freezing during a severe storm in December, is warming twice as fast as the rest of the globe as the climate changes. This year’s extreme El Nino may also have helped crank up the heat