Though currently the extent of Arctic sea ice in lower than it was back in 2007, when the current record minimum was set, two different groups of German scientists' forecasts show continued rapid decline but no new record to be set by this September. Writing for the Sea Ice Outlook, the teams from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, and from Klimacampus at the University of Hamburg, forecast that this year's melt off will leave Arctic sea ice between 4.7 million and 5.2 million square kilometers (Klimacampus and AWI, respectively). Back in 2007, the still-standing record minimum was 4.3 million square kilometers.
The two teams used different methods to come to their conclusions:
AWI used a model developed from observational data from oceanic drift buoys and satellite data. Currently they calculate that there's an 80% chance of the low point of Arctic ice being between 4.7-5.2 million sq. km, but that as the summer progresses the forecast will become more precise.
Klimacampus compared the ice area for every day of 2010 so far to the same dates from 2003-2009 based on satellite photos and measured the size and number of ice-free areas, indicators for later ice melting throughout the summer.
More on Arctic Ice Melting:
Arctic Sea Ice Loss Confirmed As Main Cause of Faster Polar Warming
Arctic Sea Ice Not Only Covers Less Area, It's Thinner Too
Melting Arctic Sea Ice Diluting Surface Water - Threatens Shellfish, Entire Polar Food Chain
NASA Confirms Dramatic Thinning of Arctic Sea Ice - Multi-Year Ice Area the Size of Alaska Lost