January 5, 2011 Repeat of a negative Arctic Oscillation leads to warm Arctic, low sea ice extent Arctic sea ice extent for December 2010 was the lowest in the satellite record for that month. These low ice conditions are linked to a strong negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation, similar to the situation that dominated the winter of 2009-2010. map from space showing sea ice extent, continentsFigure 1. Arctic sea ice extent for December 2010 was 12.00 million square kilometers (4.63 million square miles). The magenta line shows the 1979 to 2000 median extent for that month. The black cross indicates the geographic North Pole. Sea Ice Index data. About the data. Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center High-resolution image Arctic Sea Ice News & Analysis Overview of conditions Arctic sea ice extent averaged over December 2010 was 12.00 million square kilometers (4.63 million square miles). This is the lowest December ice extent recorded in satellite observations from 1979 to 2010, 270,000 square kilometers (104,000 square miles) below the previous record low of 12.27 million square kilometers (4.74 million square miles) set in 2006 and 1.35 million square kilometers (521,000 square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 average. As in November, ice extent in December 2010 was unusually low in both the Atlantic and Pacific sides of the Arctic, but particularly in Hudson Bay, Hudson Strait (between southern Baffin Island and Labrador), and in Davis Strait (between Baffin Island and Greenland). Normally, these areas are completely frozen over by late November. In the middle of December, ice extent stopped increasing for about a week, an unusual but not unique event.