Arctic Sea ice reaches 2014 minimum extent

Narration: Joy Ng


Satellite observations by NASA show sea ice coverage in the Arctic has reached an annual low.

The sea ice receded to an area of 1.94 million square miles on September 17th 2014, making it the 6th lowest extent on record.

Arctic sea ice basically acts as a big air conditioner for the planet. When the sun shines down on it, most of the energy is reflected away. So it helps keep the planet cool.

Since 1979, we’ve been monitoring the extent of sea ice with satellites and at the present time we’ve lost an area equivalent about a third of the United States. It goes up and down every year but the long-term trend is that we’ve been losing a lot of sea ice.

In large part, what’s been causing the decrease has been heat. The Arctic has been warming up. Especially in the last 10 years. The temperatures in the Arctic have risen about two to three times the global average. So increases in the global temperature have been decreasing the thickness and extent of Arctic Sea ice.

The total volume of sea ice at the end of the summer melt season in 2013 is about two thirds less compared to 1979.

The lost of arctic sea ice thickness makes it less resilient. If It’s just not as thick, what happens is it melts faster and because of this, it just doesn’t stay around as long in the summer.

It’s important that we’re looking at Arctic Sea ice because of the large impact it has on our climate. It’s basically one of the most significant symbols of a changing planet.