Northern Hemisphere Snow Cover Extent

December 2022 Snow Cover Extent Anomaly
1991-2020
Trend
per decade
Rank
(57 years)
Record
million km2 million mi2 million km2 million mi2 million km2 million mi2 Year(s) million km2 million mi2
Northern Hemisphere 43.56 16.82 -0.71 -0.27 +0.30 +0.12 Largest 37th 2012 46.85 18.09
Smallest 21st 1980 37.44 14.46
North America 17.44 6.73 +0.54 +0.21 +0.11 +0.04 Largest 13th 2009 18.27 7.05
Smallest 45th 1980 14.56 5.62
Eurasia 26.12 10.08 -1.24 -0.48 +0.20 +0.08 Largest 48th 2002 29.70 11.47
Smallest 10th 1980 22.88 8.83

Data Source: Global Snow Laboratory, Rutgers University. Period of record: 1966–2022 (57 years)

The Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent for December 2022 was 43.56 million square kilometers (16.82 million square miles), which is 710,000 square kilometers (270,000 square miles) below the 1991-2020 average.

This ranks as the 21st-smallest Northern Hemisphere December snow extent on record. For the year as a whole, the average annual Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent was near average at 24.87 million square kilometers (9.60 million square miles).

The North America and Greenland snow cover extent was 17.44 million square kilometers (6.73 million square miles), which is 540,000 square kilometers (210,000 square miles) above the 1991-2020 average. This ranks as the 13th-largest snow cover extent for North America on record.

Above-average December snow cover extent was observed across the southwestern Alaska, the U.S. Northwest, the Northern Rockies, the northern Great Plains region, and central and eastern Canada. Extent was below-average across parts of the central Plains, the mid-Atlantic, the northeastern U.S., and Nova Scotia. In 2022, the city of Halifax, Nova Scotia set a record for the lowest end-of-year snowfall amount.

Eurasia had a below-average snow cover extent for December at 26.12 million sq kilometers (10.08 million square miles), which is 1.24 million square kilometers (480,000 square miles) below the 1991-2020 average. This ranks as the tenth-smallest December snow cover extent on record.

Across the regions, snow cover was below-average across most of western Europe, southwestern Russia, Turkey, and the South Caucasus. In Europe, several ski resorts at lower elevations in the French Pyrenees and northern Alps have been forced to close due to unseasonably warm temperatures and lack of snowfall. Meanwhile, above-average snow cover extent was observed across parts of Scandinavia and the Baltic countries, Kazakhstan, northern and central Mongolia, northeastern China, North and South Korea, and the northern United Kingdom.


Sea Ice Extent

The sea ice extent data for the Arctic and Antarctic are provided by the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) and are measured from passive microwave instruments onboard NOAA Satellites. The sea ice extent period of record is from 1979–2022 for a total of 44 years.

December 2022 Sea Ice Extent Anomaly
1991-2020
Trend
per decade
Rank
(44 years)
Record
million km2 million mi2 Year(s) million km2 million mi2
Northern Hemisphere 11.92 4.60 -3.87% -3.47% Largest 37th 1982 13.64 5.27
Smallest 7th 2016 11.46 4.42
Southern Hemisphere 8.69 3.36 -16.44% -0.19% Largest 42nd 2007 11.98 4.63
Smallest 2nd 2016 8.28 3.20
Globe 20.61 7.96 -9.64% -2.02% Largest 42nd 1988 24.69 9.53
Smallest 2nd 2016 19.74 7.62

Data Source: National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). Period of record: 1979–2022 (44 years)

Globally, December 2022 saw the second-lowest December sea ice extent on record.

The Arctic sea ice extent for December 2022 ranked as the seventh-smallest in the satellite record at 11.92 million square kilometers (4.60 million square miles). This was 480,000 square kilometers (185,000 square miles)—about the size of Spain—below the 1991-2020 average.

Average annual sea ice extent in the Arctic was approximately 10.69 million square kilometers (4.13 million square miles), which ranks as the 11th-smallest annual average sea ice extent in the 1979-2022 record. The 10 lowest Arctic sea ice extents have all occurred since 2007, with the years of 2015-2021 ranking among the 10 smallest on record.

Sea ice extent was well below average across the Barents and Bering seas and the Sea of Japan. Extent was slightly below average in Baffin Bay, the Sea of Okhotsk, the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and the Kara sea. The central Arctic, the Greenland sea, and the Hudson Bay had near-normal December extents.

The December 2022 Antarctic sea ice extent of 8.69 million square kilometers (3.36 million square miles) was 1.71 million square kilometers (660,000 square miles) below the 1991-2020 average. This ranks as the second-smallest December extent in the 44-year record. Only 2016 had a smaller December sea ice extent.

Average annual Antarctic sea ice extent for the year was near-record low at 10.60 million square kilometers (4.09 million square miles). Only the year 1987 had a smaller average annual extent in the southern hemisphere. Each month of 2022 had an extent that ranked among the five smallest on record for that month. Four months—February, June, July, and August—set record lows for monthly extent this year.


Citing This Report

NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, Monthly Global Snow and Ice Report for December 2022, published online January 2023, retrieved on January 29, 2023 from https://www.ncei.noaa.gov/access/monitoring/monthly-report/global-snow/202212.