WMO Reports Arctic Sea Ice Is at a Record Low

WMO21 September 2012: The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has reported preliminary findings from the US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), which indicate that the Arctic sea ice minimum extent for 2012 was 3.41 million square kilometers, the lowest seasonal minimum extent since satellite records started back in 1979.

According to the NSIDC, the sea ice minimum extent was 18% below the previous minimum from 2007, and 49% below the 1979 to 2000 average. WMO noted the data is provisional, and that it will consolidate sea ice data from multiple sources for its upcoming annual Statement on the Status of the Global Climate.

The World Climate Research Programme, co-sponsored by WMO, indicated that the NSIDC's report of record low sea ice extent was not surprising, underlining that it was preconditioned by previous developments in the Arctic. Along with a decrease in the extent of sea ice, WMO also stressed that low volume records of sea ice have been reported in the last three years. To observe and monitor future developments in the cryosphere, which encompasses glaciers, snow, ice sheets, ice shelves, permafrost and frozen ground along with sea-, lake- and river-ice, WMO is launching a “Global Cryosphere Watch” programme. [WMO Press Release]