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Arctic sea ice at record January low

Analysis from the National Snow and Ice Data Center has shown that Arctic sea ice averaged over January 2011 covered 13.55 million km² – the lowest January ice extent recorded since satellite records began in 1979. This figure lies 1.27 million km² below the long term average between 1979-2000, adding to the linear rate of decline of -3.3% per decade.

Areas that remained unusually ice-free included Hudson Bay, the Hudson Strait and the Davis Strait. The conditions are thought to be due in part to wind patterns accompanying the negative phase of the Arctic oscillation bringing warm air into the region. This also helps explain why northern Europe and the US have experienced relatively cold weather this winter.

Arctic Oscillation brings record low January extent, unusual mid-latitude weather [National Snow and Ice Data Center]
Images:  National Snow and Ice Data Center