Though Weather Patterns Would Indicate Re-freeze, Slow Arctic Sea Ice Melt Continues

Sea ice area and extent fell again today by slight amounts. JAXA showed sea ice extent at 3.593 million square kilometers and Cryosphere today showed sea ice area at 2.294 million square kilometers. NSIDC showed a slight bump in extent numbers over the past couple of days. But, in general, most melt values are still slowly ticking lower.

Temperatures for the region above the 80th parallel are about 3 degrees C above the average for 1958-2002. These higher than normal temperatures are likely the primary driver for the continued melt we are seeing.

Weather patterns in the area — a persistent high pressure system over the Siberian coast and a deep low developing near Iceland and reaching all the way to Scandinavia and the UK — would usually herald the melt season’s end and, possibly, promote a re-freeze. As yet, this hasn’t happened. However, the slowing melt over the past couple days may be a sign that this pattern is tipping the balance back toward equilibrium or freezing.

In any case, we have two new record lows — one for JAXA and one for Cryosphere Today — as of today. Departures from previous record lows are as follows (previous record year in parenthesis):

JAXA Extent: -657,000 square kilometers (2007)

Cryosphere Today Area: -611,000 square kilometers (2011)

PIOMAS Volume: -400 cubic kilometers (2011)

NSIDC Extent: -682,000 square kilometers (2007)

Overall, these values are likely to be very close to final records set for the end of this melt season. Any further melting is likely to be less than 100,000 square kilometers. In any case, these values are deep into record low territory and represent severe losses of sea ice for this year alone.


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