NATIONAL SNOW AND ICE DATA CENTER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NATIONAL SNOW AND ICE DATA CENTER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Arctic ice minimum extent. Diagram showing the Arctic polar ice cap at its annual minimum extent on 16th September 2012. The Arctic sea ice (white) reaches a minimum in September, at the end of the Arctic summer. This minimal ice area is called the perennial ice cover. The perennial ice has been steadily decreasing since satellites began observing it in 1979, at a rate of about 10 percent per decade. The orange line shows the 1979 to 2000 median ice extent for this date. This was the lowest ever recorded minimum, at 3.41 million square kilometres, and was 760,000 square kilometres smaller than the previous record minimum. This decrease is attributed to global warming. The black cross marks the geographic North Pole.
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