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A new Arctic sea ice record?

Measurements taken from NASA’s Aqua satellite have shown that the area covered be sea ice in the Arctic Ocean this year came narrowly close to the record low set in 2007, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).

The animation below shows how sea ice cover has changed since early March until September 9th. Most notably the Northwest Passage, the sea route that threads through the islands of northern Canada to link the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, is entirely ice free.

On September 9th, sea ice covered 4.33 million square kilometers (1.67 million square miles), NSIDC reported; just 160,000 km² above the 2007 record minimum, and 2.38 million square kilometers (919,000 square miles) below the average minimum extent measured between 1979 and 2000. This appears to have been the lowest extent of the year, and may mark the point when sea ice begins its cold-season cycle of growth. However, a shift in wind patterns or late season melt could still push the ice extent lower.

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Approaching the 2011 Arctic Sea Ice Minimum [NASA]
Arctic sea ice at minimum extent [NSIDC]