Arctic sea ice melts to 6th-lowest level on record

Arctic sea ice shrank to its summer minimum — and sixth-lowest level on record — on Sept. 17, according to data released by the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

“Arctic sea ice coverage in 2014 is the sixth-lowest recorded since 1978,” said Walter Meier, a research scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

Sea ice extent on Sept. 17 was measured at 1.94 million square miles, which is 463,000 square miles below average.

September is the month when Arctic ice reaches its lowest “extent” of the year, at the end of the Northern Hemisphere summer. Sea ice is frozen ocean water that melts each summer, then refreezes each winter.

“The summer started off relatively cool, and lacked the big storms or persistent winds that can break up ice and increase melting,” Meier said.

Scientists are concerned about the ice melting from man-made global warming because the melting may change the weather further south in the mid-latitudes. Some recent studies have linked the ice melting to changes in the jet stream, which can produce extreme weather.

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