Daily Image Update

Read scientific analysis on Arctic sea ice conditions. We provide an update during the first week of each month, or more frequently as conditions warrant.

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Sea ice data updated daily, with one-day lag. Orange line in extent and concentration images (left and middle) and gray line in time series (right) indicate 1981 to 2010 average extent for the day shown. The graph also includes lines for selected earlier years, for comparison. Learn about update delays and other problems which occasionally occur in near-real-time data. Read about the data.

ABOUT THESE IMAGES

extent map concentration map time series

Click for high-resolution image. —Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center

Antarctic Daily Images

extent mapconcentration maptime series

Click for high-resolution image. —Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center

Arctic sea ice minimum ties for tenth lowest

On September 18, Arctic sea ice likely reached its annual minimum extent of 4.67 million square kilometers (1.80 million square miles). The 2022 minimum is tied for tenth lowest in the nearly 44-year satellite record, with 2018 and 2017. The last 16 years, from 2007 to 2022, are the lowest 16 sea ice extents in the satellite record.

In the Antarctic, sea ice extent has hit record lows through most of the growth season. Starting in early August, sea ice began expanding rapidly, exemplifying the strong degree of variability in Southern Hemisphere sea ice. As such it is too early to assume that the maximum has been reached as storms may still expand or compact the extended ice edge. The maximum for Antarctic sea ice typically occurs in late September or early October.

Please note that this is a preliminary announcement. Changing winds or late-season melt could still reduce the Arctic ice extent, as happened in 2005 and 2010. NSIDC scientists will release a full analysis of the Arctic melt season, and discuss the Antarctic winter sea ice growth, in early October.

Overview of conditions

Arctic sea ice extent on September 18, 2022

Figure 1. Arctic sea ice extent for September 18, 2022, was 4.67 million square kilometers (1.80 million square miles). The orange line shows the 1981 to 2010 average extent for that day. Sea Ice Index data. About the data

Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
High-resolution image

On September 18, sea ice reached its annual minimum extent of 4.67 million square kilometers (1.80 million square miles) (Figure 1), tying for tenth lowest with 2018 and 2017. In response to the setting sun and falling temperatures, ice extent has begun expanding and will continue through autumn and winter. However, a shift in wind patterns or a period of late season melt could still push the ice extent lower.

The minimum extent was reached four days later than the 1981 to 2010 median minimum date of September 14. The interquartile range of minimum dates is September 11 to September 19.

Conditions in context

Arctic sea ice extent graph with multiple years for comparison

Figure 2. The graph above shows Arctic sea ice extent on September 18, 2022, along with several other recent years and the record minimum set in 2012. 2022 is shown in blue, 2021 in green, 2020 in orange, 2019 in brown, 2018 in magenta, and 2012 in dashed brown. The 1981 to 2010 median is in dark gray. The gray areas around the median line show the interquartile and interdecile ranges of the data. Sea Ice Index data.

Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
High-resolution image

This year’s minimum set on September 18 was 1.28 million square kilometers (494,000 square miles) above the satellite-era record minimum extent of 3.39 million square kilometers (1.31 million square miles), which occurred on September 17, 2012 (Figure 2). It is also 1.55 million square kilometers (598,000 square miles) below the 1981 to 2010 average minimum extent, which is equivalent to twice the size of Texas.

In the 44-year-satellite record, 16 of the lowest minimums have all occurred in the last 16 years.

The overall, downward trend in the minimum extent from 1979 to 2022 is 12.6 percent per decade relative to the 1981 to 2010 average. The loss of sea ice is about 78,500 square kilometers (30,300 square miles) per year, equivalent to losing the size of the state of South Carolina or the country of Austria annually.

Sixteen lowest minimum Arctic sea ice extents (satellite record, 1979 to present)

Table 1. Sixteen lowest minimum Arctic sea ice extents (satellite record, 1979 to present)
RANK YEAR MINIMUM ICE EXTENT DATE
IN MILLIONS OF SQUARE KILOMETERS IN MILLIONS OF SQUARE MILES
1 2012 3.39 1.31 Sept. 17
2 2020 3.82 1.47 Sept. 16
3 2007
2016
2019
4.16
4.17
4.19
1.61
1.61
1.62
Sept. 18
Sept. 10
Sept. 18
6 2011 4.34 1.68 Sept. 11
7 2015 4.43 1.71 Sept. 9
8 2008
2010
4.59
4.62
1.77
1.78
Sept. 19
Sept. 21
10 2018
2017
2022
4.66
4.67
4.67
1.80
1.80
1.80
Sept. 23
Sept. 13
Sept. 18
13 2021 4.77 1.84 Sept. 16
14 2014
2013
5.03
5.05
1.94
1.95
Sept. 17
Sept. 13
16 2009 5.12 1.98 Sept. 13

Values within 40,000 square kilometers (15,000 square miles) are considered tied. The 2021 value has changed from 4.72 to 4.77 million square kilometers (1.84 million square miles) when final analysis data updated near-real-time data. 

Further reading

NASA visualization of 2022 Arctic sea ice minimum extent