Energy & Environment

Arctic sea ice shrinks to second-smallest amount on record

The amount of ice in the Arctic Ocean is now the second smallest since record-keeping began in 1979, the National Snow and Ice Data Center said on Monday.

Ice coverage likely measured about 1.44 million square miles on Sept. 15, second only to the 1.31 million square miles in 2012, the center said, adding that the 14 lowest levels recorded in the satellite era have all occurred in the last 14 years.

Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, noted the unusually warm weather in the north in relation to the level of Arctic sea ice this year.

"It's been a crazy year up north, with sea ice at a near-record low, 100-degree (Fahrenheit) heat waves in Siberia and massive forest fires," Serreze told USA Today.

"The year 2020 will stand as an exclamation point on the downward trend in Arctic sea ice extent," he added. "We are headed toward a seasonally ice-free Arctic Ocean, and this year is another nail in the coffin."

Serreze told the newspaper the Sept. 15 reading was one of many signs of a warming climate in the north, along with forest fires and higher-than-average temperatures over the Central Arctic.