NSIDC Update: Arctic Ocean Losing 4.75% of Ice per Decade
The value of well-funded science is that it produces sustained observations over long periods, not just when an issue is hot. I am appreciative of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, funded by NASA, NOAA and the National Science Foundation with the task of tracking the state of the cryosphere (Earth’s frozen places). As part of their scientific work, the team at the NSIDC just released new data, current through just two days ago, describing the extent of Arctic sea ice, both in absolute terms (Y axis) and relative terms (the 1981-2010 average).
As you can see, the 2015 Arctic Ocean sea ice extent has consistently fallen well below the old norm in this season of thickening ice:
The latest monthly summary by NSIDC (current through the end of November) displays the trend in sea ice extent in the Arctic Ocean for the month of November reaching all the way back to 1979 (actual data observations in black, best fit line in blue):
The rate of Arctic sea ice loss over the last 36 years (the blue line in the graph) is 4.75% per decade. We can argue about the substantive significance of this trend, but the trend itself is firmly established thanks to the dogged work of the National Snow and Ice Data Center.