Just like every day, I checked today's LANCE-MODIS satellite image to see the situation in the western Kara Sea, south of Novaya Zemlya. When comparing to last year's situation I noticed, to my surprise, that there was a retreat of sea ice that looked a lot like last week's retreat. I was surprised because I was under the impression that this year's retreat was unique. The image on the right shows how things were looking last year on the same date.
So I dived into the Uni Bremen SIC map archive to retrieve last year's images showing the whole retreat and turn them into an animation:
In the first week of April froze over again and stayed that way until the real melting got underway in May. I've now checked all the other years as well, and as far as I can tell only March 2011 and 2012 saw such extensive sea ice retreats in the western Kara Sea. Right now the open water there has refrozen. Whether things open up again or solidify some more can be followed in the 2012 Novaya Zemlya animation blog post.