It has been an very cold winter in the Arctic, and the extent of sea ice grew a lot during the winter months. However, one year old ice doesnt last long when summer arrives. Recent satellite photos show that the extent of sea ice in the Artcic is now less then ever before in June.
Last autumn only 4,13 million square kilometres of sea ice was covering the Arctic ocean, which was almost one million square kilometres less than the previous record. The cold winter in the Arctic in 2008 caused the ice to grow rapidly again, but not enough to stabilize the size of the ice sheet.
The American National Snow and Ice Data Center is closely monitoring the Arctic sea ice. Recent satellite photos show that the size of the sheet is less then it was at the same time one year ago. As the warm summer weather spreads in the Arctic, the melting intensifies. Normally 30 percent of the ice is one year old, but in 2007 only 59 percent of the ice was one year old. This year the amount of one year old ice is as much as 72 percent, which of course is more than ever before.
Normally 30 percent of the one year old ice will last through the melting period, but last year only 13 percent of this young ice survived the summer sun. Nobody really knows how extensive the Arctic summer melting of 2008 will be, but prognosis so far indicates that it will be a record breaking year.
The red line on the map indicates avarage extent of sea ice in May. (Source: National Snow and Ice Data Center)