NSIDC: Arctic Sea Ice Extent Declines Rapidly in May

A disturbing report at the National Snow and Ice Data Center shows that the rate of decline in sea ice extent for the month of May 2010 was the fastest in the satellite record.

Monthly May ice extent for 1979 to 2010 shows a decline of 2.4% per decade.
Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center

In May, Arctic air temperatures remained above average, and sea ice extent declined at a rapid pace. At the end of the month, extent fell near the level recorded in 2006, the lowest in the satellite record for the end of May. Analysis from scientists at the University of Washington suggests that ice volume has continued to decline compared to recent years. However, it is too soon to say whether Arctic ice extent will reach another record low this summer—that will depend on the weather and wind conditions over the next few months. …

Average ice extent for May 2010 was 480,000 square kilometers (185,000 square miles) greater than the record low for May, observed in 2006, and 500,000 square kilometers (193,000 square miles) below the average extent for the month. The linear rate of decline for May over the 1979 to 2010 period is now -2.41% per decade.

The rate of decline through the month of May was the fastest in the satellite record; the previous year with the fastest daily rate of decline in May was 1980. By the end of the month, extent fell near the level recorded in 2006, the lowest in the satellite record for the end of May. Despite the rapid decline through May, average ice extent for the month was only the ninth lowest in the satellite record.

(Hat tip: freetoken.)

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