Arctic Sea Ice News and Analysis (2022)

Arctic sea ice extent continued its summer decline. Extent is below average but not as low as in recent summers. In the Antarctic, sea ice extent is currently at record low levels for this time of year.

Overview of conditions

Figure 1a. Arctic sea ice extent forJuly17, 2022, was8.42 million square kilometers (3.25 million square miles). The orange line shows the 1981 to 2010 average extent for that day. Sea Ice Index data. About the data

Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
High-resolution image

Figure 1b. The graph above shows Arctic sea ice extent as of July 17, 2022, along with daily ice extent data for four previous years and the record low year. 2022 is shown in blue, 2021 in green, 2020 in orange, 2019 in brown, 2018 in magenta, and 2012 in dashed brown. The 1981 to 2010 median is in dark gray. The gray areas around the median line show the interquartile and interdecile ranges of the data. Sea Ice Index data.

(Video) Charctic Interactive Sea Ice Graph | Arctic Sea Ice News and Analysis Video

Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
High-resolution image

As of the middle of the Arctic summer, on July 17, sea ice extent was8.42 million square kilometers (3.25 million square miles) (Figure 1a). The decline rate of the extent through the first half of July was near the 1981 to 2010 average. Extent on July 17 was the highest since 2015 and overall was thirteenthlowest in the satellite record (Figure 1b).

The most notable area of ice loss so far is in the Laptev Sea. This is similar to the pattern of the last two years, but much less extreme than observed in 2020 and 2021 when the Laptev Sea ice extent was at or near record low levels in June and July. Extent continues to be below average in the Barents Sea.

Conditions in context

Figure 2a. This plot shows the departure from average air temperature, relative to the 1981 to 2020 reference period, in the Arctic at the 925 hPa level, in degrees Celsius, from July 1 to July 17, 2022. Yellows and reds indicate higher than average temperatures; blues and purples indicate lower than average temperatures.

Credit: NSIDC courtesy NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory Physical Sciences Laboratory
High-resolution image

(Video) Connections Between Arctic Sea Ice Loss and European Weather

Figure 2b. This plot shows average sea level pressure in the Arctic in millibars from July 1 to July 16,2022. Yellows and reds indicate high air pressure; blues and purples indicate low pressure.

Credit: NSIDC courtesy NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory Physical Sciences Laboratory
High-resolution image

Figure 2c. These two NASA WorldView True Color images from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor show sea ice conditions in two regions of the Arctic on July 15, 2022. The left image shows melt ponds over sea ice, as seen in light blue-green, in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. The right image shows the low sea ice concentration in the Laptev and Kara Seas towards the North Pole.

Credit: NASA Worldview
High-resolution image

In terms of air temperature, the first half of July 2022 was a tale of regional contrasts (Figure 2a). On the Eurasian side of the Arctic, particularly in the Laptev and Barents Seas, extending toward the North Pole, air temperatures at the 925 mb level (about 2,500 feet about the surface) were 3 to 6 degrees Celsius (5 to 11 degrees Fahrenheit) below average. On the North American side of the Arctic, air temperatures were as much as 8 degrees Celsius (14 degrees Fahrenheit)above average, notably in the southeast Beaufort Sea and the western Canadian Arctic Archipelago. The sea level pressure pattern was dominated by low pressure over the Laptev Sea sector, centered near the North Pole (Figure 2b).

Warm conditions in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago have enhanced melt pond formation and evolution (Figure 2c, left). Also of note is a region of low concentration ice near the North Pole in the Laptev and Kara Seas sector (Figure 2c, right). Low pressure, such as has been centered over the region in early July, often results in divergence of the ice cover and likely helped form the low concentration area.

(Video) This Naval Research Lab animation shows Arctic sea ice

Low snow and heat waves

Figure 3. This graph shows snow cover extentas a difference from average in the Northern Hemisphere forJune from1967 to 2022. The anomaly is relative to the 1981 to 2010 average.

Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center, courtesy Rutgers University Global Snow Lab
High-resolution image

By June, snow usually remains only in the high north above the Arctic Circle or at high elevations. June 2022 shows particularly low Northern-Hemisphere snow extent, indicating that the snow melt occurred faster than average. According to Rutgers Snow Lab data, the June 2022 Northern Hemisphere snow extent was third lowest in the record dating back to 1967; only 2012 and 2015 had lower June snow extent (Figure 3).

A recent paper by Rousi et al. found that changes in the jet stream are an important factor in promoting European heatwaves. A possible factor in the jet stream changes is the increasing coastal temperature contrast between the rapidly warming land surface and the more slowly warming ocean/sea ice surface. An early loss of snow contributes to the warming land surface because the loss of high albedo snow allows earlier and more rapid absorption of solar energy. Other studies have also linked early snow loss to summer mid-latitude heatwaves (e.g., Zhang et al., and Connolly et al.).

NASA summer airborne sea ice campaign

Figure 4. This map shows estimates of sea ice freeboard, or the height of sea ice above the waterline, for March 2022. Data are from the NASA Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2).

Credit: NASA National Snow and Ice Data Center Distributed Active Archive Center (NSIDC DAAC)
High-resolution image

(Video) Climate in Crisis: Could Arctic Sea Ice Reach an All-Time Low in 2021?

NASA’s Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) laser altimeter, which launched in 2018, continues to perform well and is providing elevation data of vegetation, clouds, lakes, glaciers, ice sheets, and sea ice. The NASA Snow and Ice DAAC at NSIDC archives and distributes its data. ICESat-2 provides estimates of sea ice freeboard (height above the waterline) and thickness (Figure 4). During summer, when the ice surface is melting, the sea ice data from ICESat-2 have larger errors. NASA scientists are currently in the Arctic conducting an airborne campaign to collect a myriad of validation data that they hope will help improve the ICESat-2 estimates during summer.

Antarctic sea ice extent

Figure 5. The graph above shows Antarctic sea ice extent as of July 17, 2022, along with daily ice extent data forseven previous years and the 2017 record low year. 2022 is shown in blue, 2021 in green, 2020 in orange, 2019 in brown, 2018 in magenta, 2016 in light blue, 2014 in light green, 2013 in light orange, and 2017 in dashed red. The 1981 to 2010 median is in dark gray. The gray areas around the median line show the interquartile and interdecile ranges of the data. Sea Ice Index data.

Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
High-resolution image

As of July 17, Antarctic sea ice extent was 14.80 million square kilometers (5.71 million square miles), roughly 240,000 square kilometers (92,700 square miles) below the previous record daily low set in 2017 and 1.14 million square kilometers (440,000 square miles) below the 1981 to 2010 average extent for July 17 (Figure 5). Nearly all regions of coastal Antarcticawere below theaverageextent for mid-July, with the Amundsen and Bellingshausen Seas showing the largest deficits. Ice extent along the northern edge of the Weddell and Dronning Maud sectors, and the region near the Amery Ice Shelf, was also far below average. The polynya that appears in some years in the Cosmonaut Sea has returned. A few areas of the Ross Sea and Wilkes Land have near or slightly above average extent in the satellite record. Temperatures at the 925 millibar level are 3 to 6 degrees Celsius (5 to 11 degrees Fahrenheit) above average for a wide swath of the Antarctic Peninsula and West Antarctic coast, and the Weddell Sea ice edge region is 2 to 3 degrees Celsius (4 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit) above average, with the remaining coast near-average or slightly below.

References

Connolly, R., M. Connolly, W. Soon, D. R. Legates, R. G. Cionco, V. M. Velasco Herrera. 2019. Northern Hemisphere Snow-Cover Trends (1967–2018): A Comparison between Climate Models and Observations.Geosciences. 9(3):135. doi:10.3390/geosciences9030135.

(Video) Arctic Sea Ice 2020: How much worse than previous years ?

Petty, A. A., R. Kwok, M. Bagnardi, A. Ivanoff, N. Kurtz, J. Lee, J. Wimert, and D. Hancock.2021.ATLAS/ICESat-2 L3B Daily and Monthly Gridded Sea Ice Freeboard, Version 3. [March 2022]. Boulder, Colorado USA. NASA National Snow and Ice Data Center Distributed Active Archive Center. doi:10.5067/ATLAS/ATL20.003. [Accessed 14 Jul 2022].

Rousi, E., K. Kornhuber, G. Beobide-Arsuaga, and others. 2022. Accelerated western European heatwave trends linked to more-persistent double jets over Eurasia. Nature Communications.13, 3851. doi:10.1038/s41467-022-31432-y.

Zhang, R., C. Sun, J. Zhu, R. Zhang, and W. Li. 2020. Increased European heat waves in recent decades in response to shrinking Arctic sea ice and Eurasian snow cover.Nature Partner Journals:Climate & Atmospheric Science.3,7. doi:10.1038/s41612-020-0110-8.

FAQs

What is happening to the Arctic sea ice? ›

Polar ice caps are melting as global warming causes climate change. We lose Arctic sea ice at a rate of almost 13% per decade, and over the past 30 years, the oldest and thickest ice in the Arctic has declined by a stunning 95%.

How much ice is left in the Arctic 2022? ›

1. Credit: Copernicus Climate Change Service/ECMWF/EUMETSAT. In January 2022, Antarctic sea ice extent reached 4.4 million km2 on average, 1.0 million km2 (19%) below the 1991-2020 average for January. This value ranks 4th lowest in this 43-year satellite record.

What is the current extent of Arctic sea ice? ›

Arctic sea ice has likely reached its maximum extent for the year, at 14.88 million square kilometers (5.75 million square miles) on February 25, according to scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Is Antarctic sea ice increasing? ›

From the start of satellite observations in 1979 to 2014, total Antarctic sea ice increased by about 1 percent per decade. Whether the increase was a sign of meaningful change is uncertain because ice extents vary considerably from year to year around Antarctica.

Is Arctic sea ice increasing or decreasing? ›

Sea ice in the Arctic has decreased dramatically since the late 1970s, particularly in summer and autumn. Since the satellite record began in 1978, the yearly minimum Arctic sea ice extent (which occurs in September) has decreased by about 40% [Figure 5].

What is causing the Arctic sea ice to melt? ›

Human activities are at the root of this phenomenon. Specifically, since the industrial revolution, carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions have raised temperatures, even higher in the poles, and as a result, glaciers are rapidly melting, calving off into the sea and retreating on land.

When was the last time the Arctic was ice free? ›

Summary: Recent mapping of a number of raised beach ridges on the north coast of Greenland suggests that the ice cover in the Arctic Ocean was greatly reduced some 6000-7000 years ago. The Arctic Ocean may have been periodically ice free.

What happens if the Arctic melts? ›

If all the ice covering Antarctica , Greenland, and in mountain glaciers around the world were to melt, sea level would rise about 70 meters (230 feet). The ocean would cover all the coastal cities. And land area would shrink significantly. But many cities, such as Denver, would survive.

How thick is Arctic ice? ›

Currently, 28% of Arctic basin sea ice is multi-year ice, thicker than seasonal ice: up to 3–4 m (9.8–13.1 ft) thick over large areas, with ridges up to 20 m (65.6 ft) thick.

Where is ice increasing? ›

The Arctic regularly reaches ever smaller extents of end-of-summer minimum extents of sea ice. This changing sea ice extent is cited by the IPCC as an indicator of a warming world. However, sea ice extent is growing in Antarctica [1]. In fact, it's recently broken a record for maximum extent.

How much ice is left in the world? ›

Summary
Ice massTotal ice volume% Global land surface
WAIS & APIS4.5 m SLE
Greenland7.36 m SLE1.2%
Global glaciers and ice caps*0.43 m SLE (113,915 to 191,879 Gt)0.5%
Total12.5%
1 more row
5 days ago

What has happened to Arctic sea ice in the last 20 years? ›

September Arctic sea ice is now shrinking at a rate of 13% per decade, compared to its average extent during the period of 1981 to 2010. This graph shows the size of the Arctic sea ice each September since satellite observations started in 1979.

Is the Antarctic getting colder? ›

UAH satellite data of temperatures of the lower troposphere since 1979 shows a slight warming over the Antarctic continent (0.4 degrees C, 1979 to 2021), and a very slight cooling over the Southern ocean to the 60th latitude.

How can we stop the Arctic ice from melting? ›

– Electric Power
  1. reduce the consumption of natural resources,
  2. reduce the emissions of harmful substances into the atmosphere, and.
  3. preserve the purity of water and forests.

Is Antarctic ice growing or shrinking? ›

According to climate models, rising global temperatures should cause sea ice in both regions to shrink. But observations show that ice extent in the Arctic has shrunk faster than models predicted, and in the Antarctic it has been growing slightly.

Why is Arctic ice declining? ›

Arctic sea ice decline has occurred in recent decades and is an effect of climate change; sea ice in the Arctic Ocean has melted more than it refreezes in the winter. Global warming, caused by greenhouse gas forcing is responsible for the decline in Arctic sea ice.

Is the Arctic getting better? ›

The Arctic continues to warm more than twice as fast as the rest of the globe. The snow-free period across the Eurasian Arctic during summer 2020 was the longest since at least 1990. June 2021 snow cover in Arctic North America was below the long-term average for the 15th consecutive year.

Does the Arctic have more ice this year? ›

Arctic sea ice extent 2021 at the end of December is the highest in recent years and the 2nd highest in 18 years according to the US Snow and Ice Data Center. A cool summer and autumn, particularly in the western Arctic Ocean, led to a rapid increase in sea ice this year.

How long until the ice caps melt? ›

But an Earth completely free of ice isn't going to happen within our lifetimes, or likely even within the next few thousand years. Most projections put sea-level rise at around a foot by 2100 — far less than what's possible.

What happens if the Earth's temperature rises 1 degree? ›

Over the last century, our Earth has already witnessed a vertiginous increase in temperature: 1°C between the pre-industrial era and today. If this progressive rise goes on to reach 2°C, the consequences will, like a cluster bomb, spray in many directions.

What would happen if all ice melted? ›

There is still some uncertainty about the full volume of glaciers and ice caps on Earth, but if all of them were to melt, global sea level would rise approximately 70 meters (approximately 230 feet), flooding every coastal city on the planet.

Are we still in an ice age? ›

Today Earth is in an interglacial period, a relatively warmer period of the current ice age, but in recent decades Earth's climate has been warming. While past shifts took hundreds or thousands of years, today people may be able to see changes in their lifetimes.

What is going to happen by 2040 in the Arctic? ›

The Arctic is now expected to be ice-free by 2040

Scientists now believe that the summer of 2040 will see the end of the frozen north pole after a rapid shrinking of the ice coverage in recent years, according to a report from the Arctic Council.

What is the warmest the earth has ever been? ›

The current official highest registered air temperature on Earth is 56.7 °C (134.1 °F), recorded on 10 July 1913 at Furnace Creek Ranch, in Death Valley in the United States.

Will there be another ice age? ›

There have been five big ice ages in Earth's 4.5-billion-year lifespan and scientists say we're due for another one. The next ice age may not occur for another 100,000 years.

Will the Earth melt few years from now? ›

Four billion years from now, the increase in Earth's surface temperature will cause a runaway greenhouse effect, creating conditions more extreme than present-day Venus and heating Earth's surface enough to melt it.

What the world would look like if all the ice melted? ›

The entire Atlantic seaboard would vanish, along with Florida and the Gulf Coast. In California, San Francisco's hills would become a cluster of islands and the Central Valley a giant bay. The Gulf of California would stretch north past the latitude of San Diego—not that there'd be a San Diego.

Can you drink melted sea ice? ›

As ice ages, the brine eventually drains through the ice, and by the time it becomes multiyear ice, nearly all of the brine is gone. Most multiyear ice is fresh enough that someone could drink its melted water.

What is the thickest ice in the world? ›

The thickest ice in the world forms part of the Antarctic Ice Sheet where it sits over a region known as the Astrolabe Subglacial Basin to the south of the Adélie Coast. Here, the ice sheet has been measured to be 4,897 metres (16,066 feet) thick.

How old is the oldest ice in the Arctic? ›

To get that kind of neatly layered ice sample, scientists need to drill straight down through the thick Antarctic ice sheet. So far, the oldest ice collected that way goes back 800,000 years. Now, several groups from around the world want to drill down to ice that's even older, more than 1.5 million years old.

Who owns the Antarctic? ›

People from all over the world undertake research in Antarctica, but Antarctica is not owned by any one nation. Antarctica is governed internationally through the Antarctic Treaty system.

Is there land under Antarctica? ›

There are few frontiers in the world that can still be said to be unexplored. One of these terra incognita is the land beneath Antarctica's ice sheets. Buried under kilometres of ice is a fascinating realm of canyons, waterways and lakes, which is only now being mapped in detail.

Is Antarctica melting or growing? ›

While a few areas of the frozen continent's gigantic ice sheet have been growing, overall Antarctica is losing ice, with glaciers in West Antarctica undergoing the most rapid melting. Ice shelves fringing the Antarctic land mass, where land ice meets the ocean, are also shrinking.

Where is the most ice on Earth? ›

It averages 2,160 meters thick, making Antarctica the highest continent. This ice is 90 percent of all the world's ice and 70 percent of all the world's fresh water.

What parts of the world are losing ice? ›

This is important because the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica store about two-thirds of all the fresh water on Earth. They are losing ice due to the ongoing warming of Earth's surface and ocean.

Is there land under the ice in the Arctic? ›

There's no land at the North Pole

Instead it's all ice that's floating on top of the Arctic Ocean. Over the past four decades, scientists have seen a steep decline in both the amount and thickness of Arctic sea ice during the summer and winter months.

How does sea ice affect global climate? ›

Changes in the amount of sea ice can disrupt normal ocean circulation, thereby leading to changes in global climate. Even a small increase in temperature can lead to greater warming over time, making the polar regions the most sensitive areas to climate change on Earth.

What's the warmest Antarctica has ever been? ›

The recent extraordinary heatwave in Antarctica appears to have set a new World Record for the largest temperature excess above normal (+38.5 °C / +69.3 °F) ever measured at an established weather station. It “appears to have set a new World Record for the largest temperature excess above normal …

What will happen to Antarctica in the next 50 years? ›

These glaciers will add to sea-level rise if they melt. The temperature of Antarctica as a whole is predicted to rise by a small amount over the next 50 years. Any increase in the rate of ice melting is expected to be at least partly offset by increased snowfall as a result of the warming.

Can polar ice Be Saved? ›

Scientist says giant walls and cooling tunnels may be the best ways to save polar ice. For years, scientists have been exploring ways to save the vast sheets of ice covering Greenland and Antarctica, which as the climate warms are melting and falling into the ocean.

Can we save Arctic? ›

Reducing your carbon emissions and dependence on fossil fuels can help save the Arctic. Discover practical ways you can make a difference, from joining our campaigns to shopping greener at the supermarket and making your home energy efficient.

How much will the sea level rise in 2050? ›

By 2050, the average rise will be 4 to 8 inches along the Pacific, 10 to 14 inches along the Atlantic, and 14 to 18 inches along the Gulf.

Is the Antarctic ice getting bigger? ›

From the start of satellite observations in 1979 to 2014, total Antarctic sea ice increased by about 1 percent per decade. Whether the increase was a sign of meaningful change is uncertain because ice extents vary considerably from year to year around Antarctica.

How is human activity affecting the ice? ›

The steady melt of glacial ice around the world is largely due to man-made factors, such as greenhouse-gas emissions and aerosols, a new study finds. Humans have caused roughly a quarter of the globe's glacial loss between 1851 and 2010, and about 69 percent of glacial melting between 1991 and 2010, the study suggests.

How can we save the Poles? ›

Reduce emissions wherever possible. Gandhi said: be the change you want to see in the world. There is no better time than now to put that into action. Fly or drive less, buy green energy, turn your gadgets off rather than on standby, eat less meat and try slow food, the list goes on and on.

Is the Arctic ice melting? ›

Arctic ice is melting even more rapidly than scientists previously believed. A study from the Norwegian Meteorological Institute finds parts of the Arctic are warming up to seven times faster than temperatures across the planet.

How much ice is left in the Arctic 2021? ›

Although higher, the 2021 minimum sea ice extent was around 4.724 million square kilometers, roughly 1.6 million square kilometers lower than the long-term mean. A northern hemisphere's strong negative height anomaly in the geopotential in late summer kept the western Arctic cooler and reduced the ice from melting.

When was the last time the Arctic was ice free? ›

Summary: Recent mapping of a number of raised beach ridges on the north coast of Greenland suggests that the ice cover in the Arctic Ocean was greatly reduced some 6000-7000 years ago. The Arctic Ocean may have been periodically ice free.

What are the impacts of Arctic sea ice loss? ›

The continued loss of Arctic sea ice will include further Arctic warming, erosion of Arctic coastlines, and a disturbance of global weather patterns. Sea ice loss will also open up the Arctic to increased human activity, further disturbing Arctic communities and ecosystems.

Videos

1. Analyzing the Arctic Sea Ice graph
(Carol Coad)
2. Arctic 2012: A View from Above
(Dan Brekke)
3. When will Arctic sea ice disappear?
(Climate Damage)
4. Climate Dynamics Part 19 | Climate Change and Arctic Sea Ice
(ScienceSideUp)
5. 2018 Arctic Sea Ice Maximum
(National Snow and Ice Data Center)
6. NASA Antarctic Ice News
(NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

You might also like

Latest Posts

Article information

Author: Clemencia Bogisich Ret

Last Updated: 11/01/2022

Views: 6465

Rating: 5 / 5 (60 voted)

Reviews: 91% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Clemencia Bogisich Ret

Birthday: 2001-07-17

Address: Suite 794 53887 Geri Spring, West Cristentown, KY 54855

Phone: +5934435460663

Job: Central Hospitality Director

Hobby: Yoga, Electronics, Rafting, Lockpicking, Inline skating, Puzzles, scrapbook

Introduction: My name is Clemencia Bogisich Ret, I am a super, outstanding, graceful, friendly, vast, comfortable, agreeable person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.