Arctic Sea Ice Minimum Declared
The National Snow and Ice Data Center has just announced that the 2023 minimum Arctic sea ice extent occurred on 19 September and is the 6th lowest on record. With 2023’s peak in the books, we are adding another stripe to our Arctic sea ice stripes!
Why does Arctic sea ice matter?
Planetary warming will exacerbate by 25-40% if we lose Arctic ice and snow cover. With another year of record emissions, this is the path we are currently taking. However, the loss of Arctic sea ice is directly related to global CO2 emissions (Stroeve & Notz, 2018), which means the sooner we cut emissions, the more ice we can save.
On our current trajectory, we can no longer expect a future with summer sea ice in the north. In fact, it could melt nearly completely by the 2030s—roughly a decade earlier than previously projected.
Our Chief Science Officer, Professor Julienne Stroeve, captures this trajectory: “While record high temperatures were occurring across large parts of the planet, the Arctic Ocean had a relatively average to slightly cooler-than-average summer. However, despite a late start to the melt season over the central Arctic Ocean, the overall ice extent reached 6th lowest. This reflects the fact that even if summer weather patterns are not extremely favourable for large amounts of ice loss, the thinner ice pack today compared to the 1980s is too thin for much of it to survive summer.”
Find out more about Arctic sea ice here – Arctic Sea Ice