Here's a quick update on everything related to our good friend Max.
In the past couple of days organisations like the NSIDC, NASA and NOAA have announced the annual event of the Arctic sea ice pack reaching its largest size at the end of the freezing season. This has been picked up widely by the (online) media, probably more so because it's the lowest maximum on several records, and possibly the earliest, by a large margin.
NASA has put up a very nice, concise video explaining the whole thing:
Almost 50,000 views! Great stuff.
Of course, the max is called with a caveat:
Arctic sea ice extent appeared to have reached its annual maximum extent, marking the beginning of the sea ice melt season. This year’s maximum extent not only occurred early; it is also the lowest in the satellite record. However, a late season surge in ice growth is still possible.
I referred to this possibility 5 days ago in the Early record, late record blog post. Since then JAXA SIE has continued to drop, increasing the difference with the preliminary maximum. However, the last two days JAXA reported a total increase of 99 thousand km2, reducing the difference to 137 thousand km2. Here's a quick overview, using the Wipneus home brew AMSR2 regional SIE graphs (see this map for orientation), to see what happened where.
As expected, the Bering and Barents show an uptick in recent days (black and purple trend lines):
And as expected, this uptick was dampened by the start of the melting season on the outer fringes of the ice pack in Baffin Bay and the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where sea ice levels have been high all winter:
I won't be posting the forecast in detail, but suffice to say that JAXA needs to report very big upticks in the next two days to make up for the 137K difference with the preliminary max. And all of this ice has to appear in the Barents Sea, because warm waters in the North Pacific seem to be hampering serious ice growth in the Bering Sea.
The forecast has temps increasing and winds decreasing/turning in the Barents Sea after these two days, and so this really is the last opportunity for a slightly higher record. If it wasn't for my promise, I would now be joining the other Ns and call the maximum.
Whatever happens, a new record maximum it is. Which means a new melting season is upon us.