2/3/2011 4:24:57 PM

Weird Weather: January Arctic Sea Ice Hits Record Low

Chart of sea ice extentEven as blizzards roared across the U.S., unseasonably warm arctic temperatures led to the lowest sea-ice extent for January since satellite records began in 1979, according to a new report by the National Snow & Ice Data Center.

Hudson Bay, which normally freezes in late November, did not completely freeze up this year until mid-January, shortening the hunting season for the western Hudson Bay population of polar bears. Other area that were especially hard hit by low sea-ice extent include Hudson Strait (between southern Baffin Island and Labrador) and Davis Strait (between Baffin Island and Greenland). The Center reports that the Labrador Sea remains largely ice-free.

Ice coverage was 50,000 square kilometers (19,300 square miles) below the record low of 13.60 million square kilometers (5.25 million square miles), set in 2006, and 1.27 million square kilometers (490,000 square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 average.

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