Arctic Sea Ice Melt

The graph above is the best visual depiction of the extent of the Arctic Sea ice melt I've found. This year, more ice was lost, earlier, than in all the previous years. The illustration shows pretty clearly the difference compared with five years ago and with the 1979-2000 average. The shaded gray area is two standard deviations from that average - and the 2012 line is well below it.

Why does it matter? Well, it's a pretty good sign that the planet is warming, especially, as you can see from the graph, that the loss of ice is also happening earlier in the season. Sea ice is already floating, so it won't raise sea levels. Now forecasters predict that the Arctic Sea will be ice-free in the summer in the next 15 years. And there will likely be other consequences, including further melting of the Greenland ice sheet. And that will raise sea levels. See more details here.

For more information about the extent of the melt, and comparisons with older data, check out the National Snow and Ice Data Center's Arctic Sea Ice page.

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