Washington: A new study has revealed that Arctic sea ice had hit its annual minimum on record on Sept. 17.
According to the NASA-supported National Snow and Ice Data Center ( NSIDC ), the ice coverage continued its below-average trend this year, as it melted back from its maximum extent reached in March to a coverage area of 1.94 million square miles (5.02 million square kilometers) over the summer.
The study also said that this year's minimum extent is similar to last year's and below the 1981-2010 average of 2.40 million square miles (6.22 million square km).
Walter Meier, a research scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, said that the arctic sea ice coverage in 2014 is the sixth lowest recorded since 1978. The summer started off relatively cool, and lacked the big storms or persistent winds that can break up ice and increase melting.
Meier added that even with a relatively cool year, the ice is so much thinner than it used to be and its more susceptible to melting and while summer sea ice has covered more of the Arctic in the last two years than in 2012's record low summer, this is not an indication that the Arctic is returning to average conditions.
This year's minimum extent remains in line with a downward trend; the Arctic Ocean is losing about 13 percent of its sea ice per decade.