Svalbard, Norway – According to the National Snow and Ice Data Centre, the 2020 Arctic sea ice minimum extent was likely reached on 15 September at 3.74 million square kilometres.

This year’s extent is the second lowest on record. The Arctic sea ice has already lost two-thirds of its volume and there is a consistent decline in sea ice extent over the past decades.

Speaking from the edge of the sea ice, onboard the Greenpeace Ship Arctic Sunrise, Greenpeace Nordic Oceans Campaigner Laura Meller said: “The rapid disappearance of sea ice is a sobering indicator of how closely our planet is circling the drain. As the Arctic melts, the ocean will absorb more heat, and all of us will be more exposed to the devastating effects of climate breakdown.

The Arctic ice cap is a frozen ocean in urgent need of protection, and world leaders at the UN Biodiversity Summit need to understand the role of oceans in tackling the climate crisis. Healthy oceans are crucial for some of the most marginalized people across the globe who are being impacted by ocean destruction and climate change. We need to hit the reset button right now on how we look after each other and our planet by protecting at least 30% of our oceans by 2030 to help our planet cope with the climate breakdown.” [1]

Healthy oceans keep carbon safely stored out of the atmosphere, helping to reduce the impacts of the climate crisis. [2] By protecting at least 30% of the oceans with a network of sanctuaries, marine ecosystems can build resilience to better withstand rapid climatic changes. Scientists have identified the Arctic as one of the priority areas needing protection as part of a global network of ocean sanctuaries because of it’s vital importance to climate stability.[3]

The Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise — with a crew of campaigners, activists, and scientists — is in the Arctic to document the sea ice minimum and study marine life in the region. The tour coincides with the United Nations  Summit on Biodiversity where marine protection should be front and centre to any discussions about protecting biodiversity.


Photo and video:

For a free-to-use collection of Arctic images see here [more images from the 2020 expedition will be uploaded soon]

Notes to editors





Julia Zanolli, Global Media Lead for the Protect the Oceans campaign, Greenpeace UK: [email protected], +44 (0)7971 769107

Greenpeace International Press Desk: [email protected], +31 (0) 20 718 2470 (available 24 hours)

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