The NASA Earth Observatory Image of the Day is of the Arctic Sea Ice Extent from 2009 to 2010. The image on the left is from September, when the sea ice usually reaches its minimum. On the right is the sea ice maximum for the year, which usually occurs during the month of March. Sea ice peaked on March 31, the latest peak in the satellite record, which dates back to 1979. Strong winds over the Bering and Barents Seas generated a renewal in the sea ice formation late in the season.

At first glance, the ice appears to have not declined that much in the winter image. What the image doesn’t reveal, though, is ice thickness and age. The ice is thinner and younger than before. A few of the many consequences of this are that polar bears have a harder time fishing, while ships might have an easier time navigating.

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