Minimum NH sea ice area -- Click on the plot below for full resolution

Record low sea ice extent during the winter of 2004/2005 and recent low Northern Hemisphere (NH) sea ice areas have caused speculation as to the possibility of a record minimum sea ice area for the NH late this summer. We provide the latest NH sea ice area and anomaly from 1979-2000 mean, along with some historical perspective on the speculations below.

Current NH sea ice area -- Click on the plot below for full resolution

Historically, the annual minimum in NH sea ice area occurs sometime near the end of August or during the month of September. The median (1979-present) annual sea ice minimum occurs on September 8, but the dates have ranged by nearly a month from as early as August 26 to as late as September 24.

Table of dates and visualizations of historic NH ice area minima:
09/05/1979image
08/28/1980image
09/06/1981image
09/09/1982image
09/04/1983image
09/10/1984image
09/07/1985image
09/08/1986image
08/27/1987image
09/10/1988image
09/12/1989image
09/03/1990image
09/16/1991image
09/01/1992image
09/04/1993image
09/05/1994image
09/24/1995image
09/08/1996image
08/29/1997image
09/11/1998image
09/11/1999image
09/09/2000image
09/15/2001image
09/02/2002image
09/16/2003image
09/02/2004image
09/06/2005image

You can view the annual historic sea ice minima in atlas form below, or as an animation here:

The number of days that the Northern Hemisphere sea ice area has been under the 7 million square km threshold has increased by more than 50% over the past few decades.

The dates of annual sea ice minima have almost all occurred in the month of September, usually in the first two weeks.

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