This is only the 3rd time that the Arctic sea-ice extent drops below 5 million sq km (4.95 mi sq km), all 3 times being in the last 4 years. By comparison the 1979-2000 average was 6.71 mi sq km (National Snow & Ice Data Center).
According to some studies the current sea-ice extent is the smallest since the 13th century, after a maximum reached around 1700-1800 (see link to Terra Daily 3 Jul 09 below).
Links to external websites:
[wb1] Yale Environment 360 - 07 Apr 2009: Arctic Ice Volume, Thickness Now At Record Low Levels, Study Shows The volume of ice covering the Arctic Ocean is now at record low levels, as thicker, multi-year ice that has blanketed the sea is rapidly melting and being flushed out of th
[wb2] Terra Daily - 6 Apr 09 - Artic ice thinner than ever: scientists - The Arctic ice cap is thinner than ever, satellite observations revealed Monday, while also indicating that the sea ice cover continues to shrink due to global warming.
[wb3] Terra Daily - 3 Jul 09 - The Least Sea Ice In 800 Years - New research, which reconstructs the extent of ice in the sea between Greenland and Svalbard from the 13th century to the present indicates that there has never been so little sea ice as there is now. The resear
[wb4] Terra Daily - 13 Sep 10 - Arctic ice melting quickly, report says - The ice around the North Pole has experienced another severe meltdown this year, German scientists said
[wb5] National Snow & Ice Data Center - Click to access September 15, 2010 Arctic sea-ice status update
[wb6] Mongabay - 28 Sep 11 - Climate change shocker: Canada's ice shelves halved in six years - in the past six years Canada's millennia-old ice shelves have shed nearly half their size. One ice shelf—the Serson shelf—is almost entirely gone, while another—the Ward Hunt
[wb7] Environment 360 - 06 OCT 2011: NEW ARCTIC SURVEY REVEALS SHARP DECLINE IN OLD, THICK SEA ICE - A four month sea-ice survey conducted across the central Arctic Ocean this summer has revealed a steep decline in thick, multi-year sea ice, with large areas once composed of ic
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