At the time, researchers including Mark Serreze of National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado claimed that the Arctic had reached a "tipping point" - a dramatic and irreversible slide towards ice-free conditions.Arctic melt 20 years ahead of climate models (Thanks, Alex!)
As the summer melting season finished up this year, they waited with bated breath to see how much, if any, ice would survive.
4.67 million square kilometres remained at the end of September. A positive interpretation says that the Arctic defied the apocalyptic prophecies by recovering slightly, thanks to a pattern of colder and windier weather.
But Serreze is sticking to the idea that we have reached a point of no return.
"If you look over the past five years, you see an acceleration of ice loss," says Serreze. Though 2008 did not beat the record set by 2007, it is still the second-lowest amount on record, below the record lows of 2002 and 2005.