I finally feel confident enough to call the maximum for the Cryosphere Today sea ice area data set*:
graph comes from the Pogoda i Klimat blog
More than two weeks have passed since I wrote the following:
ECMWF is showing a big high taking over the Barents/Kara regions 5 from days from now, with a big low doing its thing in the Bering/Okhotsk region. If this forecast comes about I think we will have our CT SIA maximum around March 5th.
It came about, but didn't last, and so I decided to hold on to my horses:
I'm 75% sure this will be the maximum, but I'm seeing some things in the ECMWF weather forecast maps that could make for a later maximum. Too early to tell now.
Things were a bit uncertain for a couple of days. A high of 13,680,472 km2 had been reached on March 6th, followed by a few small downticks in a row, but those downticks could still easily be overruled by a big uptick, many of which we saw in the past weeks. The weather can be very capricious at this time of the year, and quickly add hundreds of thousands of square kilometers at the fringes of the Arctic sea ice pack.
But after downticks of 60K and 51K in the last two days, looking at various weather forecast maps, and considering the fact that most regions have an anomalously high area, I think it's safe to say the CT maximum SIA has been reached on March 6th. So my first guess was pretty close, although it can hardly be called rocket science, as most years in the period 2005-2012 reached their winter season maximum around this time (in million km2):
- March 6th 2005: 13.46
- March 11th 2006: 13.36
- Febr. 26th 2007: 13.32
- March 11th 2008: 13.89
- March 2nd 2009: 13.85
- March 7th 2010: 13.81
- March 8th 2011: 13.14
- March 6th 2012: 13.68
Here's a visual version of that, one of Larry Hamilton's excellent bar graphs:
This good guess of mine is totally eclipsed by my prediction in the 2012 Maximum Area Pool. I said CT SIA would end up between 13.0 and 13.2 million square km. I did indicate at the time it was a bit of a gamble, but also didn't think the maximum would go over 13.5 million square km. Well, ahem, it did. Big time. More on the poll in a later post (sneak preview: almost everybody was wrong, but some more wrong than others).
The freezing season is over.The fat lady is on her way to the concert hall, where she will take her time getting dressed, flexing her vocal muscles, and eat a basket of chicken wings, before giving a concert at the end of the melting season that will now slowly get underway. A new year, a new melting season. Tempus fugit.
* This data set currently gets more attention on the Arctic Sea Ice blog, since it's the only dataset that is updated every day and has easy access (view/download data here) that makes it possible to compare to previous years. It's the only dataset left that does this ever since the demise of AMSR-E and the IJIS SIE data that went with it.