Geophysical Research Letters
  • Open Access

On the 2012 record low Arctic sea ice cover: Combined impact of preconditioning and an August storm


Corresponding author: C. L. Parkinson, Cryospheric Sciences Laboratory/Code 615, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA. (


[1] A new record low Arctic sea ice extent for the satellite era, 3.4 × 106 km2, was reached on 13 September 2012; and a new record low sea ice area, 3.0 × 106 km2, was reached on the same date. Preconditioning through decades of overall ice reductions made the ice pack more vulnerable to a strong storm that entered the central Arctic in early August 2012. The storm caused the separation of an expanse of 0.4 × 106 km2 of ice that melted in total, while its removal left the main pack more exposed to wind and waves, facilitating the main pack's further decay. Future summer storms could lead to a further acceleration of the decline in the Arctic sea ice cover and should be carefully monitored.