Global Snow and Ice - October 2014
NH Snow Cover Extent
|October 2014||Snow Cover Extent||1981-2010 Anomaly||Trend
(out of 47 years)
|million km2||million mi2||million km2||million mi2||million km2||million mi2||Year(s)||million km2||million mi2|
Data Source: Global Snow Laboratory, Rutgers University. Period of record: 1967–2014 (47 years)
October marks the beginning of the cold season for the Northern Hemisphere and storms begin bringing snow to the higher latitudes and elevations. During October 2014, the Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent (SCE) was 22.88 million square km (8.83 million square miles), which was 5.34 million square km (2.06 square miles) above the 1981-2010 average of 17.5 million square km (6.8 million square miles). This marked the third largest October SCE in the 48-year satellite record and the largest October SCE since 2002. The largest October SCE occurred in 1976.
Across North America, the SCE during October 2014 was above average — the contiguous U.S. had slightly below-average SCE, while Canada and Alaska each had their ninth largest October SCE. The continentally-averaged October SCE was 8.74 million square km (3.37 million square miles), 690,000 square km (270,000 square miles) above the 1981-2010 average, and the eighth largest October SCE in the 48-year period of record. Regionally, central and northern Canada, as well as central Alaska, had much above-average snow cover during the month. Below-average SCE as observed in western Canada and the north-central contiguous United States.
Eurasian SCE was above average during October, with a spatial extent of 14.14 million square km (5.46 million square miles), 4.64 million square km (1.79 million square miles) above the 1981-2010 average. This was the second largest October SCE on record, 3.08 million square km (1.18 million square miles) smaller than the record large extent that occurred in October 1976. During October, most of Russia, northern Scandinavia, Kazakhstan, and the Tibetan Plateau had above average SCE. Below-average SCE was observed in far northeastern Russia, Mongolia, and parts of southern China.
Sea Ice Extent
|October 2014||Sea Ice Extent||
(out of 36 years)
|million km2||million mi2||Year(s)||million km2||million mi2|
Data Source: National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). Period of record: 1979–2014 (36 years)
According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), the Northern Hemisphere sea ice extent — which is measured from passive microwave instruments onboard NOAA satellites — averaged for October 2014 was 8.06 million square kilometers (3.11 million square miles), about 850,000 square kilometers (330,000 square miles), or 9.5 percent, less than the 1981-2010 average. This ranked as the sixth smallest October sea ice extent on record. During the course of the month, Arctic sea ice expanded at a faster-than-average rate. Below-average ice coverage was observed across the Pacific side of the Arctic, with areas of the Beaufort Sea along the Canadian and Alaskan coasts, and in the Chukchi Sea along the coast of Siberia, still ice free at the end of October. Near-average sea ice was observed on the Atlantic side of the Arctic. October Arctic sea ice extent is decreasing at an average rate of 6.7 percent per decade.
The October 2014 Southern Hemisphere sea ice extent was 19.20 million square km (7.41 million square miles), 870,000 square km (330,000 square miles), or 4.8 percent, above the 1981-2010 average, ranking as the second largest October Antarctic sea ice extent on record. This ended a six-month streak of record large sea ice in the Southern Hemisphere, with sea ice rapidly declining after reaching its annual maximum extent in September. Sea ice loss was the most rapid in the eastern Waddell Sea and the eastern Ross Sea, both of which had much above-average sea ice in September. The largest October Antarctic sea ice extent occurred in 2013 at 19.47 million square km (7.52 million square miles). October Southern Hemisphere sea ice extent is increasing at an average rate of 1.2 percent per decade.
When combining the Northern Hemisphere and Southern Hemisphere sea ice extents, the globally-averaged sea ice extent during October was 27.26 million square km (10.53 million square miles), 0.07 percent above the 1981-2010 average and the 15th smallest (22nd largest) October global sea ice extent on record. Global sea ice extent during October is decreasing at an average rate of 1.4 percent per decade.
For further information on the Northern and Southern Hemisphere snow and ice conditions, please visit the NSIDC News page.