1.58 million sq. miles

National Snow and Ice Data Cener

Arctic sea ice extent for August 26, 2012 (right) was 4.10 million square kilometers (1.58 million square miles), which was 70,000 square kilometers (27,000 square miles) below the September 18, 2007 daily extent of 4.17 million square kilometers (1.61 million square miles)

That’s the current extent of Arctic sea ice, which has already melted to record low levels—despite the fact that there’s more than a month to go in the current summer season. According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), the current level breaks the record melt of 2007, when Arctic sea ice shrank to 1.61 million sq. miles. (The records are based on satellite data that goes back to 1979.) NSIDC noted that including 2012, the six lowest ice extents on the satellite record have occurred over the last six years.

The rapid melting of the Arctic sea ice—which hasn’t finished yet this year—is just another reminder of how fast the climate is changing, thanks chiefly to the ever-increasing amounts of greenhouse gases the world is pumping into the atmosphere. And it’s not the only thing melting in the Arctic—the ice sheets of Greenland, which add to ocean levels around the planet, have also experienced record melting. It’s getting hot on the roof of the world—and since Arctic sea ice helps moderate temperatures on the rest of the globe, that matters for all of us.

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