This year's Arctic sea ice extent was the fourth lowest ever recorded and was 4.413 million square kilometers (mskm) on September 13. The three lower extents occurred in 2012 (3.387 mskm), 2007 (4.154 mskm) and 2011 (4.344 mskm). In comparison, this was a 12.7% drop from 2013 (5.055 mskm) and a 12.3% drop from 2014 (5.036 mskm).
The trend of declining sea ice is unmistakable. This year's sea ice extent passed the lowest minimum for the entire 1980s (6.426 mskm on 9/16/84) by August 8th. It had passed the lowest minimum for the entire 1990s (5.757 mskm on 9/13/99) on by August 17th. With the exception of 2007, it passed the lowest minimum of every year of the 2000s (4.586 mskm on 9/20/2008) by September 2.
What was particularly disturbing about this year's minimum is that there were no major storms in the region to break up the ice. Long waves and heavy seas will break the ice up into smaller pieces, increasing the surface area exposed to the ocean water and increasing the melt rate. But, that didn't occur this year. This year's melting occurred principally as a combined exposure to a warmer atmosphere, resulting in melting from above, and a warmer ocean, resulting in melting from below. Hopefully, this is not an indicator of things to come, but I don't really see much chance of any alternative.
Here's a plot of this years minimum extent. (The light blue line marks the 1979-2000 average extent.):
There are now places that use to see it ice over every year, but have not seen ice in as many as 30 years.
The ice volume is a little more difficult to measure. The Polar Portal showed this for the ice volume of the last few years.
|Source: Polar Portal|
No matter what anyone says, the Arctic sea is is not experiencing a 'recovery.'