The US National Snow and Ice Data Centre said that the ice cover was 4.52 million square kilometres at its lowest point on September 12. This level is 33% below the summer average when the ice was first measured by satellites in 1979.
The most significant ice melt occurred in the Chukchi Sea, off the Alaskan coast, and in Russia’s Eastern Siberian Seas, which are home to one of the world’s largest polar bear populations.
Walt Meier, a research scientist at the centre, remarked that although the ice level has risen on last year it does not signify a dramatic improvement. "In terms of long-term climate, it’s not a recovery in any sense of the word," he said. "The long-term trend is still steeply downward and getting steeper."
See full story