Arctic sea ice retreated to its annual minimum extent on Sept. 29, reaching the third-lowest extent in the satellite record.
Sea ice coverage dropped to 4.6 million square kilometers (1.78 million square miles) at its minimum, according to scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center. The extent was lower than the 2009 minimum but remained above the record minimums reached in 2007 and 2008.
By about the end of each summer, sea ice in the Arctic reaches its minimum extent for the year. This animation shows the retreat of Arctic sea ice cover from March 31 through September 19, as recorded by the AMSR-E instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite. Credit: Trent Schindler/NASA/Goddard Scientific Visualization Studio
This animated graph first tracks the retreat of sea ice, measured in millions of square kilometers, averaged from the start of the satellite record in 1979 through 2000 (white). Next, the graph follows the 2007 extent (green) as it approaches the record minimum. Finally, the graph tracks the decline this year (blue), which reached its minimum on Sept. and ranked as the third-lowest extent in the satellite record. Credit: NASA/Goddard/Megan Willy