Global Snow and Ice - August 2019

Sea Ice Extent

August 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 5.03 1.94 -30.14% -10.28% Largest 40th 1983 8.19 3.16
Smallest 2nd 2012 4.72 1.82
Southern Hemisphere 17.40 6.72 -1.81% +0.51% Largest 37th 2014 18.91 7.30
Smallest 5th 1986 17.00 6.56
Globe 22.43 8.66 -9.99% -2.61% Largest 41st 1982 25.93 10.01
Smallest 1st 2019 22.43 8.66

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

The Northern Hemisphere sea ice extent, which is measured from passive microwave instruments onboard NOAA satellites, averaged was 5.03 million square km (1.94 million square miles) for August 2019. This was 2.17 million sq km (838,000 square miles), or 30.1%, below the 1981–2010 average. In other words, sea ice the size of Greenland melted during August 2019, resulting in the second smallest August sea ice extent in the 41-year record. August 2012 sea ice extent was smaller at 4.72 million square km (1.82 million square miles). According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), Arctic sea ice extent was at record low levels in July and August, however, after mid-August ice melt slowed considerably. August 2019 marks the 18th consecutive August with the Arctic sea ice extent below average. August 2001 was the last time the Arctic sea ice extent was above average.

For a third consecutive August, the Antarctic sea ice extent was below average at 17.40 million square km (6.72 million square miles), which is 320,000 square km (120,000 square miles) or 1.8% below average. This was the fifth smallest August sea ice extent on record. The record low August sea ice extent of 720,000 square km (280,000 square miles) or 4.1% below average took place in 1986. According to NSIDC, the Antarctic sea ice has expanded faster than normal since July 2019.

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 August 2019, published online September 2019, retrieved on September 20, 2019 from https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global-snow/201908.

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