WASHINGTON, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- January saw the lowest extent of arctic sea ice ever recorded for the month, a report by the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center says.
Despite a cold and snowy winter in North America, temperatures have been unusually warm farther north, leading to reduced sea ice coverage, LiveScience.com reported Tuesday.
NASA's Aqua satellite observed low areas of ice in Canada's Hudson Bay, Hudson Strait and the Davis Strait between Canada and Greenland, the NSIDC reported, and the Labrador Sea was similarly ice-free.
Arctic ice in January covered 5.23 million square miles, 19,300 square miles less than the previous record in 2006 and the lowest for the month since ice monitoring began in 1979.
Overall, arctic winter sea ice has declined by approximately 3.3 percent per decade since 1979, the NSIDC reported.
A seesaw atmospheric pressure phenomenon known as the Arctic Oscillation was in a negative mode, the NSDIC said, which can bring cold and snow to North America and Europe while allowing warmer air to move into the arctic.