27 Mar '12, 1pm

Numbers in on the extent of sea ice in the Arctic at the peak of winter this year (see satellite map).

Numbers in on the extent of sea ice in the Arctic at the peak of winter this year (see satellite map).

Arctic sea ice reached its maximum extent for the winter of 2011–2012 on March 18, the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) has announced. (Extent is the total area of ocean in which ice concentration is at least 15 percent.) With a total extent of 15.24 million square kilometers (5.88 million square miles), sea ice was below the 1979–2000 average, but slightly above the record low, which was recorded during the winter of 2010–2011. The map above was made from observations by the Special Sensor Microwave Imager/Sounder (SSMIS). Centered on the North Pole, the image shows sea ice concentration on March 18, with white indicating the greatest concentration and blue indicating open water. The median extent for maximum sea ice appears as a dull yellow line. The black circle is where the sensor recorded no data. On average, Arctic sea ice has historically peaked around Marc...

Full article: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=77513

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