Ice in the Arctic stretches out into the sea every winter, spreading across the region like vanilla frosting over a cake. This winter, however, warmer temps prevented the icing from expanding as far as it usually does, covering an area of just 5.61 million square miles. That may sound like a lot, but it’s the Arctic's lowest maximum ice cover since 1979, when NASA’s National Snow and Ice Data Center began monitoring these seasonal stretches and shrinkages with satellites. The date the ice reached its peak was more than two weeks earlier than usual, too.
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