The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) hadn’t updated its near-real time daily chart of Arctic sea ice levels in more than a month. A satellite that monitors the ice malfunctioned, forcing the center to suspend the service.
Researchers missed a lot during those dark weeks.
Using information from a different satellite, the NSIDC provisionally updated its Arctic sea ice data on May 6 -- and the findings were alarming.
According to the data, the Arctic sea ice melt season is running as much as one month earlier than average. Unless weather patterns change dramatically, that could mean a record year for summer melting of Arctic ice.
The ice already appears to be disappearing at a pace far faster than in 2012, when Arctic ice extent hit a record low.
Mark Serreze, the director of the NSIDC, told Mashable that there is evidence of fractures in the ice cover north of Greenland, which is “quite unusual” for this time of year.
“To me, it suggests a thinner, weaker ice cover,” he said.
In March, the NSIDC announced that Arctic sea ice had reached a record minimum for winter maximum extent. If Arctic sea ice levels plummet below 2012 levels this summer, it will be the second historic low of the year.
"I've never seen such a warm, crazy winter in the Arctic," Serreze said in a statement earlier this year. "The heat was relentless."