Beyond The Forecast: Near-record low Arctic sea ice minimum this year

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Welcome to another edition of the weekly WSLS weather newsletter! The chill of fall and winter is starting to become more and more prevalent in our area as the days get shorter. Despite the cooler temperatures, we must not forget how warm summer was in our area as well as across the globe.

Potentially the warmest spot on Earth (compared to average) this summer was the Arctic Circle. A Siberian heat wave began this year’s Arctic sea ice season early and, with Arctic temperatures 14 to 18 degrees above-average, the ice kept melting.

The sea ice reached its minimum extent on September 15 at 1.44 million square miles.

This mark is the second-lowest on record, behind 2012 when the sea ice shrunk to 1.31 million square miles. This year’s mark is nearly a million square miles less than the 1981-2010 average, per the National Snow & Ice Data Center (NSIDC).

The sea ice loss is leading to a reinforcing feedback loop. When the ice melts and exposes the open ocean, the darker ocean surface can absorb more heat, which in turn leads to more ice loss. Arctic regions warm twice as fast as the rest of the planet.

The sea ice will build back up during the colder winter months (maxing out at nearly six million square miles in March), but the summer trends are certainly troubling.

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