By Ben Geman - 08/23/13 01:48 PM EDT
The scope of sea ice cover is one of the climate change barometers that scientists monitor.
“Even if this year ends up being the sixth- or seventh-lowest extent, what matters is that the 10 lowest extents recorded have happened during the last 10 years,” said NASA glaciologist Walt Meier in a statement. “The long-term trend is strongly downward.”
The smallest sea ice reach that satellites have recorded was mid-September of 2012 at 1.32 million square miles, which is about half the average extent of the prior three decades, NASA said.