Arctic sea ice at record low for February, data center reports
The extent of the Arctic sea ice cover remained at record low levels during February, the National Sea and Ice Data Center has reported. Above average temperatures resulted in a continuation of the already low sea ice extent that existed at the start of the month.
According to an NSIDC map, February temperatures in Southcentral Alaska and western Alaska were about normal, with temperatures across much of the eastern Bering Sea being below average.
But the picture was very different in the Arctic Ocean, where average temperatures across the region remained 4 to 9 degrees F above average during February. The Barents Sea was particularly warm at temperatures of 8 to 9 degrees F above average. The warm temperatures appear to have been associated with low air pressures - in the Bering Sea, by contrast, the air pressure was relatively high.
The average Arctic sea ice extent in February was 5.51 million square miles. This was 15,400 square miles below the previous lowest February extent, recorded in 2016, and 455,600 square miles below the long-term February average for 1981 to 2010.
The Arctic sea ice extent did grow in February, but most of that growth took place in the Bering Sea, NSIDC reported. However, despite that growth, the Bering Sea ice extent was still below average at the end of February. The ice extent in the Sea of Okhotsk decreased substantially by mid-month but rebounded to an almost normal level by the end of the month. The ice extent in the Barents and Kara seas remained low throughout February, with little change observed in the location of the ice edge, NSIDC reported.
- ALAN BAILEY