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Sea Ice Update
January 3, 2012
Information published by the NSIDC suggests that low sea ice extent in the summertime may be having a direct effect on sea ice growth in the winter months. Warmer air temperatures and a lower-than-average sea ice extent were recorded in some areas of the Arctic Ocean in November of this year.
In recent years, low sea ice extent in the summer has been linked to unusually warm autumn air temperatures, resulting from the larger areas of open water (due to ever increasing sea ice loss) that absorb more heat during the summer. This heat must escape back to the atmosphere in the autumn, before the ocean can freeze over. This escaping heat contributes to warmer-than-average conditions, which have been most apparent in October but may now be extending into November.
Average ice extent for November 2011 was 10.01 million square kilometers, 1.30 million square kilometers below the 1979 to 2000 average. This was 170,000 square kilometers above the average for November 2006, the lowest extent recorded for that month in the satellite data record.
At the end of November, ice extent remained below the 1979 to 2000 average in the Chukchi, Barents and Kara seas, and Hudson Bay was still nearly ice free. Ice extent was near average in the East Greenland and the Bering seas.
The linear rate of decline for November over the satellite record is now 53,200 square kilometers per year, or 4.7% per decade relative to the 1979 to 2000 average.
Statistics courtesy of NSIDC
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