However unpredictable it is, we still like to gather as much information as we can about the coming melting season. Obviously it's important to get an idea of what happened to the Arctic sea ice during the last freezing season. We've just witnessed the spectacular retreat of ice and late freezing in the Barentsz and Kara Seas and know that the Arctic Oscillation was mostly positive this winter, which ought to have caused increased export of sea ice through Fram Strait.
This has now been confirmed through a new NASA study by Josefino Comiso (published in the Journal of Climate):
The NASA study shows much more, of course, about the long-term decline in MYI, but to be honest I'm primarily interested in what it can tell us about the coming melting season, as everyone here knows about long-term declines. The graph above shows the amount of multi-year ice (MYI) on January 31st since 1980. This year's MYI cover on that date is just a tad higher than that of 2008, which was extremely low due to the preceding record melting season of 2007. I'm expecting James Maslanik's yearly ice age percentage graph to come out soon (probably the next NSIDC monthly summary) and Arctic.io has promised to make a video of ASCAT radar images of the Arctic sea ice pack during winter (like he did last year). That will give us a more detailed look with regards to MYI.
I guess we will soon see what happens. The melting season is about to start.