Antarctica, Petermann Island, Icicles hang from melting iceberg near Lemaire Channel

By late September, the ice in the Arctic sea may have reached a new low. Scientists are worried about this development as they compare this to past lessons from Earth’s geologic history. Any abrupt decline in Arctic ice historically has always been the point of a proverbial meltdown for Earth.

Here’s a fast recap of what’s been going on up north.

2015 was the hottest year in recorded history, but now the Arctic is already displaying signs of freakishly warm temperatures as a result of a mixture of El Niño and global warming. 2016 appears to be even warmer with temperatures climbing about 50 degrees Fahrenheit over the normal levels at the North Pole. The Arctic remained extremely hot through January and February.

Every month except March has indicated an all-time monthly low, with June ice maxing out a total of 100,000 square miles (260,000 square kilometers) below the previous record low, established in 2010.

According to a scientist at NASA, the first six months of 2016 have definitely set up this year to become a new record. However, he stated that we would see the stats from July through August before we can give this summer a thumbs up.

NASA researchers are also finding several water ponds known as “melt pools” on the surface of the ice sheets, and these are an excellent predictor of the summer sea ice levels.

Climate feedbacks aside, the accelerated melting of the ice in the Arctic sea is going to have a profound effect on the ecology of this exclusive part of planet Earth. The ice shelf is a residence to numerous animals and plants, including Pacific walruses and polar bears, which will have to swim farther and expend more energy to locate a meal.