Arctic sea ice goes through ‘historic’ loss in 2020

Arctic sea ice has been in decline for a while now, but 2020 is turning out to be — by far — one of the worst years ever.

Every year, like clockwork, the northern ice cap, or sea ice, shrinks in the spring and summer — reaching its minimum extent in September — and then it grows in the fall and winter to reach its maximum extent in March. But as carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions have warmed the planet, the area covered by this summer sea ice has gotten smaller and smaller. And the ice has failed to reach its usual maximum extent in the winter. This is a change that’s come on fast, with recent years producing much worse sea ice even than the period from 1981 to 2010. But even compared with the worst years of the last decade, this summer has been devastating.

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