Federal scientists say the winter maximum level of Arctic sea ice was the smallest they’ve seen, thanks to extraordinarily warm temperatures.
The National Snow and Ice Data Center says sea ice spread to a maximum of 5.607 million square miles in 2016. That’s 5,000 square miles less than the old record set in 2015 — a difference slightly smaller than the state of Connecticut.
This winter’s biggest sea ice extent was 431,000 miles less than the 30-year average. That’s the size of Texas and California combined.
Records go back to 1979 when satellites started measuring sea ice.
Center scientist Julienne Stroeve says winter temperatures over the North Pole were 16 degrees warmer than normal, while it was 4 to 11 degrees warmer than normal elsewhere over the Arctic.