Sea-ice melt in the Arctic this year was the second-largest on record, falling just short of 2007’s all-time record melt, according to scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center. The slightly larger ice cover this year is hardly cause for celebration, though; sea ice may have covered more of the ocean’s surface overall, but the ice also appeared to be thinner and weaker than in previous years. “This year, compared to last year, it looks as though there are more broken floes with water between them, at least in certain areas. Last year there was a more solid ice pack of one connected sheet,” said Walt Meier of NSIDC. “The disconnected ice floes are potentially more vulnerable, indicating a weaker and more dispersed ice pack.” This year’s melt was 33 percent below the 1979-2000 average, and for the first time since records began, both the Northwest Passage and the Northern Sea shipping routes were ice-free at the same time. “[P]eople might be tempted to call [the increased sea ice] a recovery, but I don’t think that’s a good term, we’re still on a downwards trend toward ice-free Arctic summers.”