Arctic summer sea ice third smallest on record
The National Snow and Ice Data Center is reporting that the planet's arctic sea ice extent this summer was the third-smallest on record, behind only 2008 and 2007. It was 625,000 square miles smaller than the long-term average. It has now begun to reform as the northern winter approaches.
Arctic sea ice is important to the regulation of the planet's temperature because ice reflects sunlight. When there is less of it, less solar energy is reflected back into space and more is absorbed by the (much darker) Arctic Ocean.
On the other end of the planet, the Antarctic sea ice extent for the southern winter was the largest on record, 4.1 percent above the 1979-2000 average. Clearly, global warming does not mean everyplace warms up in unison.
Here's more from the NSIDC.
Also today, NOAA is reporting the 2010, so far, ranks as the warmest year on record globally - tied with 1998 for that distinction. Land and ocean temperatures averaged 1.2 degrees above the 20th century average. Maybe it will get really cold from now on, and all will average out to something unremarkable by Dec. 31.