Arctic Cyclone Slowly Fading, Leaves Greatly Reduced Sea Ice in Its Wake


A powerful Arctic cyclone that played havoc with sea ice is now slowly fading.

Since August 5th, the storm has raged over the Arctic, enhancing melt and stranding a large ice flow in the East Siberian Sea. Taking a look at Japanese Space Agency images of the ice sheet, it is easy to see the storm’s impacts from these before and after shots:


The above image was taken by JAXA on August 4th. In the image, you can see an area of thin ice in the Arctic Ocean between Alaska and Siberia. In the next image, taken today, much of that sea ice is gone:


In addition, it appears that a rift has opened between the main ice flow surrounding the North Pole and a rapidly diminishing flow closer to Siberia and Alaska. In general, both the storm and other strong summer melt conditions have pushed the ice pack into record melt territory for sea ice area and extent for this time of year.

Since we began making daily observations on Arctic sea ice decline on August 2nd, sea ice area has fallen by about 440,000 square kilometers or more than 70,000 square kilometers per day. Current total area measurements from the Cryosphere Today website show 3,340,000 square kilometers, about 400,000 square kilometers above the record low set for 2007. Needless to say, if ice melt rates continue apace, it would take less than six days to break the 2007 record low for sea ice area.

Sea ice extent also continued to show declines with both NSIDC and JAXA widening the gap between current measurements and the 2007 record low set for this date.


If weather conditions continue to remain favorable for Arctic melting, it appears likely that new records may be reached for both extent and area. And, as mentioned in the previous post, sea ice is also tracking for a new record low volume in 2012 as well.

As the NSIDC noted in its report yesterday — this has been an interesting summer. And it appears likely to get more interesting before it’s over.

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