Arctic sea ice has hit a new record low at 5.607 million square miles cover, about 5,000 square miles less than the previous record set last year, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) and NASA. The 1981-2010 average sea ice extent was 6 million square miles.
The difference is the size of Texas and California combined.
“The Arctic is in crisis,” Ted Scambos, a glaciologist at NSIDC, said. “Year by year, it’s slipping into a new state, and it’s hard to see how that won’t have an effect on weather throughout the Northern Hemisphere.”
This winter has been a particularly warm one in the Arctic. Temperatures over the North Pole were 16 degrees warmer than normal, while other parts of the Arctic ran 4 to 11 degrees warmer than normal.
Data center chief Mark Serreze said in a press release, “I have never seen such a warm, crazy winter in the Arctic.”
Shrinking sea ice in the Arctic has been one of the clearest indicators of the impacts of climate change. The region may experience ice-free summers by 2030, which could contribute to rising sea levels, a change in the jet stream and more extreme weather.