Press Release


Arctic Sea Ice Observation Data Analysis Results
- Ice extent became smallest in observation history -

August 25, 2012 (JST)

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has been observing the Earth by the Global Change Observation Mission 1st - Water "SHIZUKU" (GCOM-W1) since July 3, 2012 (Japan Standard Time.) As a result of our analysis on sea ice data measured by the onboard microwave scanning radiometer, we found that the sea ice extent in the Arctic Ocean has become the smallest in observation history. The extent on August 24 (JST) was 4.21 million square kilometers, and that fell below the smallest record of 4.25 million square kilometers marked in 2007 in satellite observation history.
According to our observations, the sea ice extent shrunk to the second smallest in September 2011, and, after that, satellite observation images confirmed that some parts of multi-year ice (which had survived one or several summer and become thick) had flowed into the Atlantic Ocean during winter to spring. In the spring of 2012, we confirmed through satellite image analysis that about a half of the Arctic Ocean was broadly covered by a thin layer of one-year-old ice (which was formed in or after the last summer) thus we estimate that sea ice is getting thinner due to recent temperature increase in the Arctic Ocean.
Arctic sea ice usually becomes smallest in mid to late September; therefore, melting will continue till then. JAXA keeps monitoring the sea ice in the Arctic Ocean by the SHIZUKU to report the latest status via press releases and on our website.

Sea ice concentration distribution

Sep. 24, 2007

Aug. 24, 2012
SHIZUKU/AMSR2 (Under verification)

For images of the Arctic sea ice, please refer to the following website
Earth Observation Research Center(Seen from Space)
*Downloading images published on the website is free. To use the images, please place a credit following the conditions stipulated on the "Using JAXA images" page. Please indicate "(C) Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)", "(C) JAXA" or "Courtesy of JAXA" unless otherwise noted.

[Reference URLs]
Arctic Sea-ice Monitor
Distribution images of Arctic sea ice concentration and sea ice area information are updated everyday and provided to the public on the Arctic Sea-Ice Monitor website using the IARC-JAXA information system (IJIS) set up at the International Arctic Research Center (IARC), University of Alaska, by JAXA.

Global Change Observation Mission 1st - Water "SHIZUKU" (GCOM-W1)