It’s not magic: Arctic sea ice disappears

Well, that’s almost exactly what’s happening to sea ice in the Arctic.  Yesterday, it was confirmed that the Arctic sea ice extent had hit its lowest level since satellite records began (in 1970).  That’s a reduction of over 3 million square kilometres, 42% below the 1979-2000 median sea ice extent for the date.  And it’s not done yet – more melting this year is likely, since the lowest sea ice extent has typically been recorded near the end of September, still a month away.

Pack ice (ice floes) in Arctic waters, Greenland © Alan BURGER / WWF-Canada

The shrinking sea ice is one of the most visible early impacts of global climate change.
“Record-breaking ice minimums are becoming the new normal”, says Clive Tesar of WWF’s Global Arctic Programme. “We’re breaking records on a regular basis as the sea ice continues its decline. A week ago in Grise Fiord, Canada’s northernmost community, we saw an ice-free horizon that astonished local people. This ice-loss is affecting Arctic life, and the lives of people around the world. As this new record shows, we have little time left to take effective action to help Arctic life adapt.
Ice loss has been shown to have negative effects on southern populations of polar bears. It has been linked to the deaths of walrus, and has led to new species moving into the Arctic. For Arctic peoples, the shrinking ice cover has made some traditional cross-ice travel routes more treacherous, and has led to increased erosion threatening coastal villages. The ice loss also has global impacts, warping weather patterns across the northern hemisphere.
These changes are exactly why the Last Ice Area – the territory between northern Greenland and Canada where the last summer sea ice is projected to remain longest – is so important, and why researchers and WWF staff are participating in the Sailing to Siku voyage this summer.  And why we really need and value your support.  To learn more about WWF’s work in the Arctic, visit