I introduced the term 'flash melting' in a recent SIE update. It was a pun on the term 'flash flooding' where lots of rain falls out of the sky in a short amount of time, causing creeks and rivers to flood very fast. I based the concept on the state of large parts of the ice pack in the Beaufort, Chukchi and East Siberian Seas that looks like slush puppie on the satellite images. It seems so weak that one can't help but wonder if it will all "just melt away quite suddenly", to quote Professor Peter Wadhams from this 2007 BBC interview (as I did in the piece CAPIE hits record low).
In the last two days something weird has happened on the sea ice concentration maps of the University of Bremen, with large swathes of ice suddenly disappearing from the radar (the full animation from August 6th-22nd can be watched here) on the upper left of the image:
Update August 24th: Added yesterday's image. Could be the sensor is picking up ice again.
Update August 25th: Added yesterday's image. No more flash melting (thank God).
This looks so spectacular that it could just be a fluke, a deceived satellite sensor. Flash melting is a nice term for fast melting, but it can never be as fast as flash flooding. It ought to occur more on a time scale of say one week (which is very fast in the Arctic). Because however weak the slush puppie ice may be, it still takes large amounts of energy to make it disappear completely.
On the other hand IJIS extent took a bit of a nosedive with a reported melt of 98K square km for yesterday's date, and there's a huge cyclone battering the ice as we speak:
This cyclone has quite big winds blowing in an anti-clockwise fashion, meaning a lot of that weak ice is being pushed away from the ice pack, dispersing into relatively warm water. Some of it is melted, but a lot of it simply could not be showing up on the sea ice concentration map (again, if it isn't a fluke). In this sense I agree with the explanation Patrice Monroe Pustavrh came up with in the comment section of the latest SIE update:
I think there is just simple explanation for great drop in Uni Bremen extent. Ice area in specific location was just above 15% threshold one day before and it dropped to just below 15% today. Given the spread of ice it seems most logical explanation to me. We may see some of this area filled back next day.
Let's see how this develops and keep an eye on the Slush puppie animation.