Arctic sea ice remained on its death spiral on Wednesday, with the amount of winter ice cover falling to its fifth lowest on the satellite record, scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center said.
The scientists said Arctic sea ice extent for March averaged 4.80m sq km (5.70m sq miles). That's 730,000 sq km below the 1981-2010 satellite average.
The latest findings reinforce a trend that could see the Arctic losing all of its ice cover in the summer months within decades.
The world's leading scientists this week admitted that Arctic sea ice was disappearing much faster than expected.
“The decline of Arctic sea ice in summer is occurring at a rate that exceeds most model projections,” the United Nations' intergovernment panel on climate change said in releasing its first report since 2007.
The report said the loss of sea ice and the melting of permafrost on land were already having knock-on effects in the form of severe storms.