Arctic Sea Ice at Minimum Extent - 2023

By LT Jacquelyn Putnam, NOAA
U.S. National Ice Center
September 26, 2023

The U.S. National Ice Center (USNIC) has determined the 2023 minimum Arctic sea ice extent occurred in mid-September 2023 with an area of 4.13 million square kilometers. This estimate is based on analysis from the USNIC’s Interactive Multisensor Snow and Ice Mapping System (IMS), used in the Multisensor Analyzed Sea Ice Extent (MASIE) product, and is created jointly with the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).

Analyses for the 2023 melt season indicated a minimum 3-day average of 4.13 million square kilometers between 14 September and 16 September. USNIC minimum ice extent is determined based on a 3-day average to account for short-term spatial variability in the sea ice edge location. The 2023 Arctic sea ice extent minimum is the fifth lowest recorded since 2006, when this metric was first tracked consistently from IMS. The 2023 minimum occurred 1 day before the 18 year average minimum date of 16 September.

The NSIDC, for comparison, announced on 25 September that the Arctic minimum had occurred on 19 September at 4.23 million square kilometers. This estimate, which differs slightly from the USNIC estimate, is based on a 25-kilometer resolution ice concentration product from satellite microwave radiometers. USNIC’s IMS uses a variety of different satellite observations which are interpreted by an analyst to determine the presence of ice at a 1km resolution. The slight differences also stem from the varying missions of each institution, the methodology, and the spatial resolution of the data sources used to identify the presence of sea ice.

Image of the Arctic
                 depicting minimum ice coverage along with median sea ice extent line
Figure 1: Minimum sea ice extent for 14-16 September as analyzed by USNIC’s IMS. The red dashed line shows the 1981-2010 median extent for 15 September as calculated by NSIDC.

To access daily products, weekly products, archival data and much more of USNIC data in various formats, visit the USNIC webpage at:

For more information, please contact:
National Ice Center
Command Duty Officer
Voice: (301) 943-6977
Twitter: @usnatice
Facebook: @usnatice

The U.S. National Ice Center is a tri-agency center operated by the Navy, NOAA, and Coast Guard and provides global to tactical scale ice and snow products, ice forecasting, and related environmental intelligence services for the United States government.

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