Publication Date February 17, 2017

Arctic sea ice on track to be among smallest winter maximums on record


The end-of-summer minimum extent in 2016 tied for the second-smallest on record. As we've written about previously, ice growth throughout the winter has been extremely sluggish. In November, the usual seasonal expansion of the ice cover actually reversed course for nearly a week. This retreat shows up in the animation: watch the ice cover between Greenland and Russia. The area fills in with white as ice concentrations approach 100% in mid-November, but then shades of blue return in late November and early December as the growth halts.

Arctic sea ice extent reaches its maximum winter extent in late February or early March. Following a record-low January extent, this year's winter maximum is lining up to be among the smallest on record. The final frame shows how much the sea ice would need to grow in coming weeks to reach normal winter maximum extent.