There's a poll in the right hand bar running until February 8th for predicting the Cryosphere Today maximum sea ice area number. Don't be afraid to share your prediction in the comments of this thread: 2012 Maximum Area Pool
We are entering the final phase of the freezing season. After that there will be a short lull, with sunlight and warmth trying to grab the Arctic back from Winter's clutch. Then the melting season will start all over again.
Image retrieved from this blog post on ringed seals
Edit February 4th: the scientists at the University of Washington's Polar Science Center have updated the PIOMAS volume graph:
According to the model the Arctic sea ice has approximately the same volume as last year. Wipneus' graph has more trend lines from previous years:
On Wipneus' other graph we see that January 2012 is above the exponential trend: