The 2015 Arctic sea ice summertime minimum shown with the 1981-2010 average (gold line). (Credit: NASA/Goddard Scientific Visualization Studio)
Arctic ice cover at its minimum in the summertime is at its fourth lowest extent on record, according to a recent NASA satellite analysis. In fact, the 10 lowest minimums have been recorded in the past 11 years.
According to NASA, it was at its lowest extent in 2012, after a large cyclone accelerated its decline. However, this season, it could potentially shrink further as continued heat and late-season ice melt persist.
The ice has become increasingly weak against melt, as it is fragmented and easier to dissolve in the summer. According to scientists, it is less likely to recover this winter. Though it is uncertain what exactly is causing the ice to melt even after the melting season, they believe it may be because of the El Niño at the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean.
NASA is planning a mission to the Arctic to study the cause of the melting ice cover and to gain insight on what will happen to land and sea ice as the cover changes.
Top image: The 2015 Arctic sea ice summertime minimum shown with the 1981-2010 average (gold line). (Credit: NASA/Goddard Scientific Visualization Studio)