The amount of sea ice left at the end of the Arctic summer shrank to the second lowest level since records began in 1979.  The low point was reached on 10 September 2016, when sea ice covered 4.14 million square kilometres (1.6m sq miles).  The lowest level ever recorded was in 2012, when Arctic sea ice covered just 3.39 million square kilometres.

The reduction in summer sea ice in the Arctic is seen by scientists as a strong indicator of how climate change is accelerating.  All of the lowest amounts of summer sea ice have been recorded in the last ten years.  Meanwhile, March 2016 was when the area of winter sea ice reached the lowest maximum on record.

Scientists suspect that this summer's sea ice is actually around 5cm thinner than usual, which means that although the amount of sea covered by ice might not be the lowest ever recorded, the amount of ice by volume might actually be the lowest ever.

Photo by Gerard Van der Leun.

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