Global Snow and Ice - June 2016


NH Snow Cover Extent

June 2016 Snow Cover Extent 1981-2010 Anomaly Trend
(per decade)
Rank
(out of 49 years)
Records
million km2 million mi2 million km2 million mi2 million km2 million mi2 Year(s) million km2 million mi2
Northern Hemisphere 5.58 2.15 -3.84 -1.48 -1.29 -0.50 Largest 47ᵗʰ 1978 14.97 5.78
Smallest 3ʳᵈ 2012 4.92 1.90
North America 4.31 1.66 -1.50 -0.58 -0.44 -0.17 Largest 47ᵗʰ 1978 7.84 3.03
Smallest 3ʳᵈ 2012 3.85 1.49
Eurasia 1.27 0.49 -2.34 -0.90 -0.85 -0.33 Largest 48ᵗʰ 1978 7.13 2.75
Smallest 2ⁿᵈ 2012 1.07 0.41

Data Source: Global Snow Laboratory, Rutgers University. Period of record: 1967–2016 (49 years)

The 2015-16 Northern Hemisphere snow season ended on June 30th with the 2016-17 snow season beginning on July 1st. Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent typically reaches an annual minimum during late summer. August has the lowest average monthly snow cover extent at about 1.1 million square miles, or about twice the size of Alaska, with most of the snow cover observed across the high latitudes of the Arctic and in the highest elevations further to the south. Snow cover extent typically reaches its largest extent in mid-winter, with the January average snow cover extent about 18.1 million square miles, covering roughly 9 percent of the earth's entire surface and 31 percent of the earth's land surface.

The table below provides a monthly recap of the 2015-16 snow season across the Northern Hemisphere. This past season was fairly representative of longer-term trends that have been observed in snow cover extent, with below-average snow cover during the spring and summer seasons and near- to above-average snow cover during the autumn and winter seasons.

Month Snow Cover Extent (million sq. miles) Anomaly (million sq. miles) Rank out of 50 years Trend per decade
Jul 2015 0.97 -0.45 5th smallest -21.3%
Aug 2015 0.99 -0.9 14th smallest -11.4%
Sep 2015 2.27 +0.25 14th largest +0.8%
Oct 2015 8.26 +1.49 7th largest +1.3%
Nov 2015 13.99 +0.88 7th largest +0.9%
Dec 2015 16.79 -0.50 19th smallest +0.9%
Jan 2016 18.84 +1.93 9th largest +0.3%
Feb 2016 16.80 -0.80 3rd smallest -0.2%
Mar 2016 14.35 -1.14 2nd smallest -1.2%
Apr 2016 10.78 -0.89 1st smallest -1.7%
May 2016 6.31 -1.03 4th smallest -4.6%
Jun 2016 2.15 -1.48 3rd smallest -13.4%

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Sea Ice Extent

June 2016 Sea Ice Extent
1981-2010
Anomaly
Trend
(per decade)
Rank
(out of 38 years)
Records
million km2 million mi2 Year(s) million km2 million mi2
Northern Hemisphere 10.60 4.09 -11.37% -3.60% Largest 38ᵗʰ 1982 12.75 4.92
Smallest 1ˢᵗ 2016 10.60 4.09
Southern Hemisphere 13.85 5.35 -0.79% +1.65% Largest 26ᵗʰ 2014 15.29 5.90
Smallest 13ᵗʰ 2002 12.98 5.01
Globe 24.45 9.44 -5.63% -0.77% Largest 38ᵗʰ 1979 27.39 10.58
Smallest 1ˢᵗ 2016 24.45 9.44

Data Source: National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). Period of record: 1979–2016 (38 years)

According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), the Northern Hemisphere (Arctic) sea ice extent — which is measured from passive microwave instruments onboard NOAA satellites — averaged for June 2016 was 10.60 million square km (4.09 million square miles), 1.36 million square km (530,000 square miles), or 11.37 percent, below the 1981-2010 average. This was the smallest June Arctic sea ice extent on record, dipping below the previous record of 10.86 million square km (4.19 million square miles) in 2010. Five of the first six months of 2016, excluding March, have set new low monthly Arctic sea ice extent records. For the entire month, the rate of sea ice loss was 56,900 square km (22,000 square miles) per day, which was near-average. Slower than average ice loss was observed during the first half of the month, with above-average ice loss during the second half of the month. At the end of June, below-average sea ice was observed in the Kara, Barents, and Beaufort seas. June Arctic sea ice extent is decreasing at an average rate of 3.6 percent per decade.

The June Southern Hemisphere (Antarctic) sea ice extent was 13.85 million square km (5.35 million square miles), which was 110,000 square km (40,000 square miles), or 0.79 percent, below the 1981-2010 average. This was the 13th smallest June Southern Hemisphere sea ice extent on record and the smallest since 2011. The June 2016 Antarctic sea ice extent was in contrast to the sea ice during the previous two Junes, when record and near-record large extents were observed. Sea ice across the Antarctic expanded at a rate faster than average during the first third of the month with near-average ice expansion during the rest of June. Southern Hemisphere June sea ice extent is increasing at an average rate of 1.7 percent per decade, with substantial inter-annual variability.

For further information on the Northern and Southern Hemisphere snow and ice conditions, please visit the NSIDC News page.

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Citing This Report

NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, State of the Climate: Global Snow and Ice for June 2016, published online July 2016, retrieved on August 28, 2016 from http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global-snow/201606.