Arctic Sea Ice Extent Continues Push For New Lows, Large Areas of Fragile Ice Show Potential For More Melt


Today sea ice extent monitors continued to push toward new record lows.

Measurements taken from the Japanese Space Agency for this date showed sea ice extent at 4,333,000 square kilometers. This is about 70,000 square kilometers below yesterday’s total and about 130,000 square kilometers above the low set in 2007. At the current rate of melt, this record will be broken within the next 2-3 days.

NSIDC also showed sea ice extent measures continue to fall. The extent of sea ice shown by NSIDC is very close to that of JAXA. So should melt rates hold, we should see a new record for NSIDC ice extent within the coming days as well.

Sea Ice area, as measured by Cryosphere Today, showed a slight freeze back today with about 51,000 square kilometers of sea ice area recovered. These kind of small freeze-backs tend to occur during this time of year. However, they usually overlay a slowing downward trend. Currently the record low for sea ice area was set yesterday and stands at 2,742,000 square kilometers or 163,000 square kilometers below the previous record low.

In total, about nine different reports track various values for sea ice in the Arctic. So far, according to Neven’s ‘domino count,’ five of these reports are now showing that Arctic Sea ice has reached a new record low for this year. The ‘domino count’ has increased by one since yesterday with Cryosphere Today’s arctic basin sea ice area measurement showing a new record low.


Lastly, I’d like to give you a little analysis about the potential for future melt. A region of ice in the Kara, Laptev, and Barents seas has been undergoing rapid melt over the past 5 days. This area continues to show thinning ice pulling back in toward the polar region. The area is large compared to the remaining ice sheet, and could provide significant further melting. From this region runs a thick band of fragmented and fragile ice through the East Siberian and Beaufort seas around to the Queen Elizabeth Islands.

Though the angle of the sun is getting lower, there is still a lot of warm air and water moving around in the Arctic. So these regions of fragile ice will remain vulnerable to adverse weather throughout the coming weeks. In short, due to the thin and fragmented nature of the ice in the regions described, there is still potential for significant melt through mid September.


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