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From Pole to Pole, Melting Beyond the Interdecile Range

Scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center have been following the extent of sea ice in the Arctic and Antarctic for many decades now, long enough to establish a long-term baseline for the years 1981-2010 and then to compare current ice conditions to those older ice conditions.

Measured in millions of square kilometers, the Arctic and Antarctic sea ice extent for 2017 so far is indicated in graphs below with the line in blue:

Arctic Sea Ice Extent, January through May 2017

Antarctic Sea Ice Extent, January to May 2017

But of course, the blue line isn’t all there is to the graph. There’s a dark gray band, representing the “interquartile range” — the area within which half of the sea ice extent measurements for a calendar day lay between the years of 1981 and 2010. Then there’s a lighter gray band, representing the “interdecile range” — the area within which 80% of the sea ice measurements from 1981-2010 lay.

Look how far the measurements have sunk for this year, 2017: far below the edge of even the interdecile range. For our planet these are unusual times, strange times, irregular times.

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