The Arctic in January shown in computer animation reveals how the ice shrinks as spring arrives, then dramatically disappears after May.
But the Arctic’s average ice cover from 1979-2000 is a lot smaller today.
This summer the Arctic ice sheet has retreated far further than expected, leaving far less ice cover than forecast.
Now one of the world’s leading experts has predicted the Arctic sea ice will totally collapse in the summer months as early as 2016.
Professor Peter Wadham of Cambridge University first predicted the demise of Arctic ice back in 2007, when it hit its previously smallest extent.
This year it is another half a million square kilometres smaller, and Wadham says this is proof we must intensify our efforts to prevent global warming or risk a “global disaster” in the northern latitudes.
Submarine data shows the ice has lost 40% of its thickness since 1980, and Wadham warns a collapse of the Arctic ice sheet would release vast quantities of methane from the submarine permafrost, driving global warming even faster.