Global Snow and Ice - May 2019

NH Snow Cover Extent

May 2019 Snow Cover Extent 1981-2010 Anomaly Trend
(per decade)
Rank
(out of 53 years)
Records
million km2 million mi2 million km2 million mi2 million km2 million mi2 Year(s) million km2 million mi2
Northern Hemisphere 17.06 6.59 -1.96 -0.76 -0.77 -0.30 Largest 44th 1974 23.09 8.92
Smallest 10th 2010 15.38 5.94
North America 8.56 3.30 -0.74 -0.29 -0.24 -0.09 Largest 46th 1974 11.48 4.43
Smallest 8th 2010 7.80 3.01
Eurasia 8.50 3.28 -1.22 -0.47 -0.54 -0.21 Largest 46th 1976 12.51 4.83
Smallest 8th 2013 7.26 2.80

Data Source: Global Snow Laboratory, Rutgers University. Period of record: 1967–2019 (53 years)

The Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent (SCE) for May 2019 was below average at 17.06 million square km (6.59 million square miles). This value is 1.96 million square km (760,000 square miles) less than the 1981–2010 average and the tenth smallest May SCE since records began in 1967. This was also the smallest May SCE since 2016. Eight of the 10 smallest May SCE have occurred since 2010. For the March–May period, the Northern Hemisphere spring 2019 SCE was 1.25 million square km (483,000 square miles) below average and the tenth smallest spring SCE on record.

The May North American SCE was the eighth smallest May SCE in the 53-year record at 8.56 million square km (3.30 million square miles) or 740,000 square km (290,000 square miles) less than the 1981–2010 average. Above-average snow cover was mainly observed in northeastern Canada. Below-average May SCE was present across much of Alaska, central and western Canada, and across the Rocky Mountains in the contiguous U.S. Canada's May SCE was below average, ranking as the 15th smallest May SCE in its 53-year record. The contiguous U.S. SCE was below-average during May 2019 and the 13th smallest May SCE on record. Alaska had below-average conditions, resulting in the 11th smallest May SCE since records began in 1967. For the March–May period, North America's spring 2019 SCE was near average.

The Eurasian SCE during May 2019 was 8.50 million square km (3.28 million square miles) or 1.22 million square km (470,000 square miles) below the 1981–2010. This was the eighth smallest May SCE on record. Below-average SCE was observed across much of eastern Russia and parts of southern and western China. Above-average conditions were present across parts of central Russia. For the March–May period, Eurasia's spring 2019 SCE was below average at 1.23 million square km (475,000 square miles) below average—the sixth smallest spring SCE on record.


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Sea Ice Extent

May 2019 Sea Ice Extent
1981-2010
Anomaly
Trend
(per decade)
Rank
(out of 41 years)
Records
million km2 million mi2 Year(s) million km2 million mi2
Northern Hemisphere 12.16 4.70 -8.50% -2.63% Largest 40th 1985 14.07 5.43
Smallest 2nd 2016 11.92 4.60
Southern Hemisphere 8.84 3.41 -12.99% +1.08% Largest 41st 2015 11.72 4.53
Smallest 1st 2019 8.84 3.41
Globe 21.00 8.11 -10.45% -1.07% Largest 41st 1982 24.73 9.55
Smallest 1st 2019 21.00 8.11

Data Source: National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). Period of record: 1979–2019 (41 years)

According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), the Arctic (Northern Hemisphere) sea ice extent—which is measured from passive microwave instruments onboard NOAA satellites— averaged for May 2019 was 12.16 million square km (4.70 million square miles). This was 8.5% (1.13 million square km / 430,000 square miles) less than the 1981–2010 average and was the second smallest May sea ice extent on record. The May 2019 Arctic sea ice extent had 240,000 square km (93,000 square miles) more sea ice than the record set in 2016. During May 2019, rapid sea ice loss was observed in the Bering Sea and southern Chukchi Sea. The Bering Sea had near-record low sea ice extent for the fourth consecutive month. Additionally, sea ice extent was below average in the Baffin Bay, and Barents and Chukchi seas.

May 2019 marks the third consecutive May that the Antarctic (Southern Hemisphere) sea ice extent was significantly below average. May 2019 sea ice extent was 8.84 million square km (3.41 million square miles) or 13.0% below the 1981–2010 average. This was the smallest Antarctic May extent in the 41-year record, surpassing the previous record set in 1980 (12.8% below average).

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 May 2019, published online June 2019, retrieved on July 23, 2019 from https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global-snow/201905.

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