The spring and summer melt season is officially on for Arctic sea ice, and it’s not off to a good start. The 2015 melt season will start with a record low maximum ice extent… According to scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center, sea ice extent was 425,000 square miles below the 1981-2010 average. That’s the equivalent of 1.6 times the size of Texas (the largest state in the Lower 48) or 411 Rhode Islands (the smallest state). No matter how you measure it, it represents a huge missing chunk of ice… This year’s record low maximum for winter sea ice in the Arctic doesn’t guarantee another record low minimum when summer rolls around in August. But it is cause for concern and provides a clear sign of how the planet is changing as the Earth warms… “The fact that we’re starting the melt season with low- maybe record low- winter extent cannot be good,” Jennifer Francis, a Rutgers University Arctic researcher, said in an email right before the records came in.