The National Snow and Ice Data Center data showed sea ice extent for August 8 as 5.8m sq km (2.2m sq miles), compared to the 1979-2000 August average of 7.7m sq km (3.0m sq miles). The current record low was recorded in 2005, when Arctic sea ice covered just 5.32m sq km (2.09m sq miles).
Since the melting season runs until the middle of September, scientists believe this summer will end with the lowest ice cover on record.
Scientists now think we are starting to see a feedback pattern, with a little bit more melting during summer and a little less recovery of ice during the winter. This is expected to speed the decline of Arctic ice with major consequences for wildlife, especially polar bears, which traverse ice-floes in search of food.
Globally, Earth would lose a major reflective surface and so absorb more solar energy, accelerating climatic change around the world.