This year’s Arctic sea ice maximum annual extent is the lowest on record.
On February 25, 2015, the sea ice cap of the Arctic reached its annual maximum winter extent. At 5.61 million square miles, this year’s maximum extent was the smallest on the satellite record. Arctic sea ice, frozen seawater floating on top of the Arctic Ocean and its neighboring seas, is in constant change: it grows in the fall and winter, reaching its annual maximum between late February and early April, and then it shrinks in the spring and summer until it hits its annual minimum extent in September. The past decades have seen a downward trend in Arctic sea ice extent during both the growing and melting season, though the decline is steeper in the latter. Watch the video to see changes in Arctic sea ice observed from space leading up to this year’s record maximum.