It is possible that Arctic sea ice could decline even further this year before the onset of winter.
BOULDER, Colorado (CNN) -- Ice cover in the Arctic Ocean, long held to be an early warning of a changing climate, has shattered the all-time low record this summer, according to scientists from the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder.
Using satellite data and imagery, NSIDC now estimates the Arctic ice pack covers 4.24 million square kilometers (1.63 million square miles) -- equal to just less than half the size of the United States. This figure is about 20 percent less than the previous all-time low record of 5.32 million square kilometers (2.05 million square miles) set in September 2005
The loss of land-based ice is predicted to lead to a future rise in sea levels.
A substantial rise in sea level could imperil low-lying areas from Bangladesh to Miami, Florida, to Lower Manhattan, and could magnify the damage from landfalling hurricanes and cyclones.