Here's an animation I made especially for a guest post on ClimateProgress, the special features - or oddities if you like - of this year's melting season:
Both the Northwest Passage and the Northern Sea Route have opened up. As this has happened almost every year since 2007, it has become one of those new normals, but I thought I’d mention it anyway (yes, I’m being sarcastic). Shipping companies have begun sending Suezmax-class tankers through the Northern Sea Route.
More interesting is the fact that more than half of of the ice in the channels between the Queen Elizabeth Islands (that part of the Canadian Archipelago between the Northwest Passage and the Arctic Ocean) has melted out completely. This used to be the place where the thickest and oldest sea ice of the Arctic would gather, pressed together by the winds. Not anymore. Last year we saw how ice floes from the Arctic Ocean flowed between the islands when the buttresses disappeared, into warmer southerly waters. This year the winds have been blowing in the wrong direction and so the ice in those channels has simply vanished and not been replaced. There will be thinner first year ice there, meaning it will melt out earlier next year.
I forgot to mention the Laptev Bite! But that's okay, as it isn't showing as prominently on this map as on the other sea ice concentration maps. The retreat of the ice pack on the Atlantic side of the Arctic is also quite unusual, when compared to images from previous minimums.
Because the animations on ClimateProgress don't seem to work in Firefox (and IE plays them only once), I post the other one here as well, an animation of Larry Hamilton's graphs: