This melting season we witnessed something peculiar. Patches of highly concentrated ice - in the Beaufort and East Siberian Seas and on the other side in the Greenland Sea - started moving away from the ice pack in the Arctic Basin. We discussed this phenomenon at the start of August in the blog post Breaking Away From the Pack:
What if that forecasted high-pressure system over the Beaufort Sea starts to develop for real next week and the Beaufort Gyre kicks into gear again, spurred by westerly winds? One would think the small patch(es) in the Beaufort Sea would get pressed into the central pack again, but perhaps the bigger patch in the East Siberian Sea would get swirled loose by the winds blowing westwards. Either way it will be interesting to watch.
All of this more or less came about and since then we have witnessed the forming of holes in the central ice pack and massive movements of ice at the fringes of the ice pack. Not exactly breaking away from the pack, but as close as you can get to it.
Of course, Artful Dodger and Jack Taylor have been making animations that show all these things happening, but I decided to take a closer look at the arm of ice that is stretching out towards the Siberian coast. It has become of extra interest now that the extent has made a feint, fooling everyone into thinking the melting season was over. The recent decline is of course partly caused by compacting winds, but the arm is stretching so far southwards that melt has something to do with it as well (especially as sea surface temperatures are anomalously high in that part of the Arctic).
Have a look:
So, will it melt out completely? It's very hard to tell, but if it does extent might actually drop a bit more.
Here's an SST map for September from EORC/JAXA:
And here's an animation of daily sea surface temperature images from NCEP's Marine Modeling and Analysis Branch of the Environmental Modeling Center of the last 10 days: