As expected after a month of stalling sea ice extent and weather that generally isn't conducive to sea ice loss, 2016 is no longer lowest on record. In fact, 'only' 5890 km3 of volume was lost during June, according to PIOMAS, which is still more than any year before 2010, but less than any year after 2010, except for 2014. 2016 has now dropped into third position, on a par with 2010.
Here's how the differences with previous years have evolved from last month:
As you can see the change in difference with 2012 is massive, which isn't surprising given that 2012 dropped almost 7300 km3 during June. Over on the Arctic Sea Ice Forum I was expecting this year's volume loss to be somewhat higher, but it seems I was wrong. So 2016 is now more than 1000 km3 behind 2012, which is another line of evidence that speaks against new record lows at the end of the melting season. Of course, this doesn't mean everything is hunky dory. Quite the contrary.
Wipneus' version of the PIOMAS volume graph shows how this year's trend line kept veering off its course, while 2012 dropped off a cliff during June:
And look, the trend line on the PIOMAS sea ice volume anomaly graph has dropped well into the 2 standard deviation zone where it hasn't been since 2013. The question is now whether it will drop some more and leave the light grey band like it did in 2010, 2011 and 2012:
The PIOMAS team has again posted a thickness anomaly map that shows where this year the ice is thicker/thinner compared to the 2000-2015 average:
Just like last month ice is mostly thicker in the East Siberian and Laptev Sea regions. We get a more detailed view if we compare directly to 2011 and 2012, both currently lower than 2016 and ending with the lowest September volume and extent numbers on record (from this Wipneus comparison map; red means ice is thicker there now, blue the opposite):
If this year is going to stay in 2011 and 2012's slipstream, it is because a lot of the ice on the Siberian side of the Arctic melts out. But except for an intense heat wave a couple of weeks ago and all the fast ice having disintegrated by now, these regions have been spared the worst, and the current weather forecast isn't showing any big changes in the coming week (more on that in the next ASI update). Plenty of time left to go, of course.
This year is following the low average thickness years from the 2010-2013 period, as corroborated by the thickness plot from the Polar Science Center:
As a bonus, I'm also showing you a new ice motion map that was posted on the Polar Science Center website, with the January-June mean for the 2006-2016 period on the left, and this year's anomaly to the right:
Although clockwise drift speed has been higher in the Central Arctic during the first half of this year, it doesn't seem to have resulted in as much export through Fram Strait as during the 2006-2016 period. I'm not sure how important this is, as this year the heat has decided to come to the ice, instead of the other way around.
Again, we see how important June is for record-breaking ambitions. These latest PIOMAS numbers show that 2016 has now definitely lost the edge it had over 2012, although it remains one of the lowest in most metrics. I'm still pretty certain that no records will be broken in September, but unfortunately I'm also pretty certain that this year won't offer any relief either. Who knows, maybe a lot of that thicker ice on the Siberian side of the Arctic will be preserved and the Northern Sea Route won't open up completely for the first time in a decade. But somehow I doubt it.