Every year around the end of February, after a long winter, Arctic ice reaches its maximum extent. This year that happened around Feb. 25, when it encompassed 14.54 million square kilometers (5.61 million square miles) of ice around the North Pole.
Sound like a lot? It’s not. Really, really not. This year’s maximum extent was the lowest on record.
The plot above shows the situation. The solid line shows the average ice extent over the year (measured from 1981 to 2010) and the gray area represents a statistical measure of random fluctuations; anything inside the gray is more or less indistinguishable from the…
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