Arctic Ice Melt Sees Early Start

The maximum extent of Arctic ice on Feb. 25 was the lowest on record. The orange line shows the median extent for that day from 1981 to 2010. (Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center)
The maximum extent of Arctic ice on Feb. 25 was the lowest on record. The orange line shows the median extent for that day from 1981 to 2010. (Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center)

The Arctic’s summer ice melt has begun — earlier than ever.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center reported Friday that Arctic sea ice reached its maximum extent on Feb. 25.

That extent covered about half a million square miles less than average — and it maxed out two weeks sooner than normal.

The Data Center says ice is still growing in parts of the Bering Sea — and there could be some spikes later in the season. But they don’t think the overall extent will see a major increase again this season, especially further north.

The Arctic saw lower than average ice conditions across the board this year, except in the Labrador and Davis straits.