I'm regularly writing updates on the current sea ice extent (SIE) as reported by IJIS (a joint effort of the International Arctic Research Center and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) and compare it to the sea ice extents in the period 2006-2009. The IJIS graph is favoured by almost everyone, probably because it looks so nice compared to other graphs (like the one by Arctic ROOS, the University of Bremen and the Danish Meteorological Institute). All the years have a nice colour of their own which makes it easy to eyeball the differences between trends. Most of the betting on minimum SIE is based on the IJIS data. NSIDC has a good explanation of what sea ice extent is in their FAQ.
August 8th 2010
Extent melt rates have plummeted again after yet another extension of the adverse weather that is keeping the ice pack from converging towards the Pole. The month started out well with a small century break and some decent daily melts, due to an intensification of winds that were still blowing in the wrong direction but had an effect on the very mobile ice pack nonetheless. But this has reverted back to the state we have witnessed the past 6 weeks: Arctic skies dominated by low-pressure areas that increase cloudiness, decrease air temperatures and stall the Beaufort Gyre. The exact opposite of the conditions in 2007 that resulted in a record minimum extent.
The melting season is slowly approaching its end. In about two weeks melting rates are inexorably going to go down. For minimum extent to end up below the 5 million square km mark atmospheric conditions are going to have to change real soon now, otherwise the spread out sea ice - despite its brittleness and thinness and the unprecedented 'holes' in the interior of the pack - might survive long enough for the sun to disappear below the horizon and the big refreeze to cover all the open areas with fresh sea ice. Read this blog post from yesterday that discusses the weather forecast for the coming week. This is 2010's last chance to do something remarkable.
The reported melt for the 5th was 53,906 square km, followed by 48,125 square km the following day. Today's reported number was 38,437 square km. 2010 is still in second position, maintaining its lead over 2006 and 2009 (that had similar bad melting rates during this phase of the melting season), but with its century break series now ended 2008 has crept closer quite a bit. If nothing changes it will overtake 2010 in a week or so.
The current difference between 2010 and the other years is as follows:
2006: -272K (37,697)
2007: +728K (57,041)
2008: -127K (70,333)
- 2009: -157K (48,654)
The average daily melt for the month of August is between brackets. 2010's average daily melt for August is currently 67,031 square km per day.
And here's the IJIS sea ice extent graph:
The trend on the Cryosphere Today sea ice area anomaly graph has been going up and down and is currently slightly higher than the value in the last SIE update: -1.433 million square km compared to the 1979-2008 mean. The sea ice area in the Arctic Basin and the East Siberian Sea has stopped dropping again for the time being. These are the only regions of interest left now, as is the Canadian Archipelago. All other regions have practically hit rock bottom. Here's the anomaly graph for the entire Arctic:
With yesterday's blog post on weather and AO Index forecasts and some animations of sea ice concentration and sea surface temperature maps coming up after the weekend, I guess there is nothing much else I can show you except perhaps this animation of PIPS ice displacement forecasts. There's nothing new there though, as the arrows are still bouncing in all directions and sizes all over the place:
Ah, and I forgot. Of course there is still the sea ice compactness graph that shows the ratio of sea ice area and extent and is a result of this recent blog post discussing the metric (click for a larger version):
We'll be keeping an eye on that one.
TIPS - Other interesting blog posts and news articles concerning the Arctic and its ice:
After his Petermann Glacier ice breaking scoop Patrick Lockerby forges forward with an excellent piece called Spitting on Graves, correcting a pseudo-skeptic piece of Arctic historical revisionism that we will be seeing more of the coming month.
Here's an interesting piece in the Globe and Mail by Sharon Oosthoek on the German research vessel Polarstern.
Much has been written about Greenland's melting ice cap, but rapidly changing climate may be opening up new possibilities for agriculture in the south of the country. Read on: Sky News Eco Report.
There's always news concerning our Arctic poster children, this time from Nunatsiaq Online: Polar bears looking for food on the sea ice in Baffin Bay north of Clyde River may find seals to eat, but the seals will likely be loaded with the industrial poisons and pesticides still found in the Arctic air and water.