Sea ice has hit record lows for this time of year, data also show. "It's just crazy, crazy stuff," says a scientist who has been studying the polar region since 1982.
New research analyzes the decline of the region's ecology by weighing natural variability and human factors.
The Antarctic ice sheet continues to grow slightly, while Arctic sea ice is still melting fast. Scientists think climate change can explain both phenomena.
The amount of sea ice in the Arctic appears to have reached its lowest level in 2013 -- more than last year, but well below the long term average.
Researchers say the Arctic sheet is not only shrinking in area, but also losing much of its volume by thinning.
Dr. Tom Wagner of NASA is remarkably cheerful as he explains how the historic melting of sea ice in the Arctic threatens to exacerbate climate change across the globe.
Although this wasn't the worst winter on record for retention of Arctic sea ice, a report from NASA and the National Snow and Ice Data Center says that the region is now missing a Texas-sized chunk of the stuff that keeps polar bears alive and cities above sea level. More alarming, the ice that is there is younger, thinner and more fragile than in years past.
Ozone, which had been considered a minor player in global climate change, is actually a major factor in the dramatic warming of the Arctic zone, according to NASA. Worse, scientists are reporting that climate change is "irreversible," as Arctic sea ice has failed to re-form for the second year in a row.