As the annual summer melt proceeds apace, 2012 has beat the previous record minimum ice extent, set in September 2007. The chart below tracks progress towards and beyond this ominous milestone. Scroll down to view an animation of summer sea ice from 1979 to 2011. The graphics show areas of ocean with greater than 15% ice cover.
The animated map and bar chart below show average ice extent in the Arctic Ocean in September, the month of minimum cover. Use the play button and slider to control the animation.
Source: US National Snow & Ice Data Center