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Arctic Death Spiral - March 2013





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Published on Apr 11, 2013

Arctic sea ice volume as of March 2013, just playing with the data! Latest static graph downloadable here:

2013 started the year with ONE TRILLION tonnes (1,058km³) less ice than last year - this is a third of the amount of ice remaining at 2012's record minimum.
The rate of ice loss in the Arctic is staggering. Since 1979, the volume of Summer Arctic Sea Ice has declined by 80% and is accelerating faster than scientists believed it would, or even could melt.
The first ice-free summer in the Arctic Ocean is expected to happen between 2016 and 2022.

This latest video by Andy Lee Robinson illustrates the dramatic decline since 1979 until the March 2013.

About the data: Sea Ice Volume is calculated using the Pan-Arctic Ice Ocean Modeling and Assimilation System (PIOMAS, Zhang and Rothrock, 2003) developed at APL/PSC.
Source data for this graph is available from

More information:
Neven's Arctic Sea Ice Blog with some commentary:

3-D Visualization of Arctic Ice Loss

Also featured on BBC's Newsnight:

New York Times: Pondering the Path To an Open Polar Sea, Andrew Revkin

Washington Post: A sobering take on Arctic sea ice (VIDEO)

Think Progress: Arctic Death Spiral: The Video

Climate Central: Arctic Has Lost Enough Ice to Cover Canada and Texas

Yale Climate Forum: A New Climate State: Arctic Sea Ice 2012

I produced the animation using hand-written perl and php code to create povray scripts, and scheduling task distribution using MySQL between 6 linux servers working in parallel to render HD1080p frames. The "farm" renders 20 frames simultaneously taking around 30 minutes per frame. On completion, I used ffmpeg to reduce the frames into mp4 720p ready for upload.


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