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Updated23/04/2017 14:30 

Noth Pole Ice Cover

Updates daily. Data courtnesy of NSIDC.

Arctic sea ice follows an annual cycle of melting through the warm summer months and refreezing in the winter. The sea ice plays a critical role in regulating climate, acting as a giant mirror that reflects much of the Sun's energy, helping to cool the Earth.

Sea ice in the Arctic shrank a dramatic 18% this year (2012) on the previous record set in 2007 to a record low of 3.41m sq km, according to the official US monitoring organisation the National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Boulder, Colorado.

November 2012
Melting of polar ice sheets has added 11mm to global sea levels over the past two decades, according to the most definitive assessment so far. More than 20 polar research teams have combined forces to produce estimates of the state of the ice in Greenland and Antarctica, the rate of sea level rise is accelerating, rising by nearly one millimetre per year now compared with 0.27 millimetres per year in the 1990s, the researchers say.