Again big changes. The year started out with the lowest increase for January in the 2007-2016 period (see last month's PIOMAS update), and now for February the second lowest increase has been reported. With a volume growth of 2047 km3 2016 came in well below all other years from the past decade, except for 2014, which clocked 1930 km3. Obviously, the increase in sea ice volume so far this year is the lowest on record:
What this means, is that - according to the PIOMAS model - the gap with pre-2010 years has widened even more. As of February 28th the ice pack contains well over 2000 km3 less ice than it did in 2008 and 2009, and almost 1500 km3 less than 2007. The gap with post-2010 years has all but vanished. 2016 is now in second place, just 124 km3 behind 2011. The gap with last year, the peak of the rebound after the 2012 record melting season, has now grown to 1900 km3.
Wipneus' version of the PIOMAS volume graph clearly shows 2016 right between 2011 and 2012:
And of course, the trend line on the PIOMAS sea ice volume anomaly graph has moved down some more. We'll have to wait and see whether it will cross the blue linear trend line before the melting season starts (probably not):
Volume is relatively low, but so is sea ice area (record low, in fact, see this blog post) and so nothing much has changed on the average sea ice thickness graph, except for a small dip towards the end of the month. Remember, this is a crude sea ice thickness calculation, derived by dividing PIOMAS volume numbers with Cryosphere Today sea ice area numbers:
As usual, the same applies to the PSC's thickness graph:
The rebound that followed the 2012 volume crash peaked last year around this time, and just like a bouncing basketball that sooner or later is confronted by gravity, it started moving down again. After the melting season the minimum was basically at the level of 2013 again, but it didn't stop there. An anomalously warm winter that so far has resulted in really low sea ice cover, has caused modelled volume to dip below 2012 levels, just a whisker from going lowest on record.
The question now is whether the basketball will bounce off the floor again, or whether it still is on the stairs it has been on since satellite records began, going one or two steps lower. But first 4-6 more weeks of volume growth until the maximum.