Update March 31st: It looks like the maximum has arrived even later. The peak from 11 days ago has been beaten by almost 8K square km. This isn't much, but those 11 days extra make it a super late maximum. And the Lord only knows if this is the final maximum. I'm not calling this one anymore, ever!
Do you remember last week when I said that Cryosphere Today sea ice area had reached its maximum? Well, it didn't. The Arctic sea ice has this amazing propensity for turnabouts, even in just one week time.
image source: Pogoda i Klimat
I waited extra long to call the maximum, even though I announced at the end of February that it could well come about around March 5th. On March 6th a first peak was reached and a week later I felt confident to call the maximum:
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.
Those weather forecast maps started changing soon afterwards, but with a couple of drops amounting to 236K km2 less than the peak, I was still confident the max would hold up, if only for the fact it was March 15th already, and in the last 7 years all the maxes were reached before March 11th. Enter Arctic sea ice.
Daily increases of 112K and 67K respectively brought the first peak within reach. CT didn't update every day, because they probably wanted to double-check the numbers, but today three days in a row were reported. First a drop of 146K for March 19th (!), followed by an uptick of 217K for March 20th (!!!). That was enough to get a new max of 13,700,674 square km, approximately 20K more than the previous peak. And very late in the season too:
- 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 20th 2012: 13.70
So, I'm having an incredibly bad start of the season, turning out wrong twice already. Not only did I get the date of maximum wrong, but on the CT max SIA poll I went for 'Between 13.0 and 13.2 million square km2'. I knew it was a bit of a gamble (I half expected that huge polynya south of Novaya Zemlya to stay open), but half a million off is plainly embarrassing. Oh well, live and learn. And I wasn't the only one, looking at the poll result:
Only 2.4%, 5 out of 207 persons, guessed right! Well done, anonymouses from Cleveland (USA), Stockholm and Linköping (Sweden), and Launceston (Australia, twice). I apologize for not being a bookmaker.
Which goes to show why scientists tend to be so conservative. Stick your head too far out on a gamble, and it gets chopped off, your reputation in shambles. Luckily I don't have any reputation to speak of. That's to say, I have a repututation of being quite a good Pétanque-player, but I don't think this will compromise it. Phew! But it's a good lesson. I'll try to be extra careful and conservative from now on. Unless the ice does something crazy, of course.
It is the end of the freezing season, CT SIA currently is almost 900K higher than record years 2007 and 2011. Whether this means we'll see a recovery at the end of the melting season can't be predicted right now, but it's a huge difference.