Graph of the day: Arctic has warmest winter on record

Usually winter climate news from the Arctic comes somewhere in March, at the turning point of seasons, when we can precisely compare the annual sea ice maximum to that of other years. But this year we know it’s gonna be bad, in advance – with record-high temperatures both in December and January, continuing and at the onset of the third proper winter month, February.

Shown below is the declining sea ice trend for the month of January since satellite measurements began, in 1979.

Arctic sea ice trend for January - record low for 2016
Arctic sea ice trend for January – record low for 2016. Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).

According to the NSIDC the Arctic sea ice extent for January 2016 was 90,000 square kilometers smaller than the previous record-low January ice extent, of 2011. The trend shows a decline in January ice extent of -3,2% per decade. Currently the declining sea ice trend is steeper for the Arctic summer than for the Arctic winter.

© Rolf Schuttenhelm |

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