Satellites have provided a reliable tool for continuously monitoring changes in the Arctic ice since 1979. Every summer the Arctic ice cap melts down to what scientists call its "minimum" before colder weather begins to cause ice cover to increase.
This visualization shows the expanse of the annual minimum Arctic sea ice for each year from 1979 through 2018, with a graph overlay. The date shown in the upper right corner indicates the current year being displayed.
In 2018, the Arctic minimum sea ice covered an area of 4.15 million square kilometers.