Arctic sea ice reached its annual maximum extent on March 21, after a brief surge in extent mid-month. Overall the 2014 Arctic maximum was the fifth lowest in the 1978 to 2014 record. Antarctic sea ice reached its annual minimum on February 23, and was the fourth highest Antarctic minimum in the satellite record. While this continues a strong pattern of greater-than-average sea ice extent in Antarctica for the past two years, Antarctic sea ice remains more variable year-to-year than the Arctic.
Arctic sea ice extent for March 2014 averaged 14.80 million square kilometers (5.70 million square miles).
This is 730,000 square kilometers (282,000 square miles) below the 1981 to 2010 average extent, and 330,000 square kilometers (127,000 square miles) above the record March monthly low, which happened in 2006. Extent remains slightly below average in the Barents Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk, but is at near-average levels elsewhere.
Extent hovered around two standard deviations below the long-term average through February and early March.
The middle of March by contrast saw a period of fairly rapid expansion, temporarily bringing extent to within about one standard deviation of the long-term average.Source: National Snow & Ice Data Center