Arctic sea ice continues to shrink, according to the latest satellite data. And in a scenario all too familiar to people of a certain age, the ice that is left has been replaced by a younger, thinner version of itself.
According to the US National Snow and Ice Data Center, the maximum extent of Arctic sea ice last winter was the fifth lowest on record. All sixth lowest maximums have occurred in the last six years (press release).
This year’s maximum was 15.16 million square kilometres, which is smaller than the 1979-2000 average by an area roughly the size of Texas (or France). Younger, thinner ice which melts every year is now 70% of Arctic sea ice, says the NSIDC, meaning melting is easier. In the 1980s and 90s this type of ice was between 40 and 50% of the total.