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COUNTDOWN

CO2 Budget Depletion

VANISHING ARCTIC SEA ICE SPEEDS UP GLOBAL WARMING.

Arctic Sea Ice Loss

Research shows that Arctic sea ice loss is directly related to global CO2 emissions; Stroeve & Notz, 2018.

Explore what this means in this interactive app.

How do emitters near you affect Arctic sea ice? Click the image above to find out – don’t forget to share your results!

THE RISK

ARCTIC SEA-ICE EXTENT IS SHRINKING FAST. Arctic sea ice is an indicator of climate stability. Today, there is about 40% less sea ice coverage at the end of the melt season than existed in the 1980s. The ice area shrank by almost half the size of the entire European Union. What was left was smaller than at any time in at least 1,000 years.

SEE THE DATA

HOW HAS ARCTIC SEA ICE EXTENT CHANGED OVER TIME? Our new Sea Ice Stripes show you how the ice has changed over time.

SEE THE DATA

SEA ICE LOSS WORSENS WARMING. White ice cover reflects much of the sun’s energy back out to space. But as ice disappears, the dark ocean is exposed, absorbs more of the sun’s energy, and warms, helping to melt more snow and ice. Estimates suggest that the loss of Arctic sea ice together with reductions in snow cover over the boreal land areas will exacerbate global warming by 25 - 40% (Duan, Cao, and Caldeira, 2019, Pistone, Eisenman, and Ramanathan, 2014).

SEE THE DATA

Increased Global Temperature means less Arctic sea ice This new visualisations hows how when the global temperature is higher there is less sea ice in the Arctic.

SEE THE DATA

IPCC FINDINGS

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is the world’s most authoritative source on climate change. It reviews all published literature to provide comprehensive and objective scientific information.

VANISHING SEA ICE MEANS AN UNRECOGNISABLE WORLD
  • The area of Arctic seas covered by late-summer sea ice is shrinking by 10.5 to 15.1% every decade. Between 1979 and 2018, the extent of the sea ice dwindled for every month of the year.
  • Arctic sea ice is getting younger and less stable. In the 40 years between 1979 and 2018, the proportion of Arctic sea ice at least five years old shrank from almost a third to just two percent.
  • When global warming reaches between 1.5 and 2°C, scientists expect the Arctic to be practically sea ice-free during September in some years. If temperatures climb further, September sea ice will be mostly a thing of the past.

DIMINISHING SEA-ICE EXTENT

DATA SOURCE

Charts best viewed in landscape mode, rotate your phone to explore this chart.

Shrinking sea ice extent means more dark ocean exposed, and more warming energy absorbed by Arctic waters, melting yet more ice. Scientists estimate that adding only 800 million tonnes more CO2 to the atmosphere will heat the Arctic enough to leave it practically sea ice free in the late summer. The way things are going, that’s just a few decades away.

Arctic Sea Ice STRIPES

DATA SOURCE

Charts best viewed in landscape mode, rotate your phone to explore this chart.

Light stripes represent years with more of the Arctic Ocean covered by sea ice, and darker stripes represent years with less ice and more exposed ocean. It paints a clear picture: rising temperatures mean Arctic sea ice is disappearing. The lowest annual average sea ice was recorded in 2020.

DESTABILISED SEA ICE

DATA SOURCE

Charts best viewed in landscape mode, rotate your phone to explore this chart.

Arctic sea ice is getting younger, thinner and less stable. While Arctic sea ice comes and goes with winter freezing and summer thaw, a significant portion of Arctic sea ice once remained through the Arctic summers, surviving from year to year. Ice older than 4 years old used to make up over 30% of the Arctic Ocean, but it now makes up only 3.1 percent of the ice cover. Further, thin first-year ice now makes up the majority of the Arctic Basin, making it more vulnerable to melting out each summer.

Increased Global Temperature means Less Arctic sea ice

DATA SOURCE

Charts best viewed in landscape mode, rotate your phone to explore this chart.

As temperatures rise across the world, Arctic sea ice melts. Each point on the graph represents a year - with a trend showing that Arctic sea ice is lowest during years with the highest global temperatures. Hover over the graph to see each year’s data.

ARCTIC RISK INDICATORS

The following gauges show up-to-date data regarding key indicators in the Arctic. These indicators clearly point to the crisis at hand.

Greenland rate of ice loss
13 million l/s
on average
13 million tonnes/s
on average
Arctic Sea Ice Extent
422,499 km²
below 1981-2010 average on 26-May-2024
163,127 mi²
below 1981-2010 average on 26-May-2024
Arctic Amplification
4 times
faster than global average
Arctic 66N+ Wildfire emissions
44.04 megatonnes CO₂e
CO₂e emissions in 2024 so far
Arctic Air Quality (PM2.5)
2.63 microgram per cubic meter
on 27-May-2024
Global mean Sea Level
3.4mm/year
since 1993