As reported in the last ASI update, the forecast Dipole has now set up. Yesterday's last analysis chart provided by Environment Canada, at 18Z, showed the high pressure moving in via the Bering Strait at 1037 hPa, while a rapidly weakening storm that had moved in from Siberia (lowest central pressure was 967 hPa, two days ago) was still at 974 hPa on the other side of the Arctic. This then evolved to a massive 1041 hPa on one side of the Dipole, and 977 hPa on the other:
That's a humongous pressure gradient of 63-64 hPa! You don't see that often around this time in the Arctic, a not so nice story for the grandkids. Right now, the high is still at 1041 hPa, but the low has weakened further to 980 hPa. That's still a pressure gradient of 61 hPa.
It means very strong winds are blowing over the ice pack, from Siberia to Canada, compacting the ice pack and further pushing open water towards the pole, as can be seen on this animation of Uni Bremen sea ice concentration maps:
If one looks carefully at the ice in the so-called Wrangel Arm, you can clearly see the ice flash in and out of existence. There comes a point where the ice no longer flashes back, but in the meantime it makes for wild swings on the CT sea ice area graph, as calculated by Wipneus:
Swings are less wild on the JAXA sea ice extent graph, but there have been some big drops there as well in the past couple of days:
2016 is now second there too, but still has to drop 339K to go lower than the 2007 minimum (it already is 5th lowest at the moment). Of course, the minimum is reached later for extent, and in the two weeks that are left most of the ice in the Wrangel Arm will have to melt out, and the ice pack needs to be compacted further for the second place to come in sight.
The ECMWF weather forecast model looked much worse the last few days, but has improved somewhat. Here's what's in store for the coming 6 days (click for a larger version, and go to the ASIG Forecasts page for daily forecasts):
The Dipole will persist for another 2-3 days, but the high gets stretched out in the process and is then pushed aside by a weak low. So, in a few days the game of guessing when the minimum is reached will start. We'll have to see how much lower extent and area can get due to compaction and the melting out of the Wrangel Arm.
Here are two more images I'd like to share, both coming from the Danish Meteorological Institute. The image on the left clearly shows the size and intensity of the Dipole. The image on the right shows how for a brief time temperatures above 80N went above zero again, as the Dipole sucked in warmer air from lower latitudes:
And finally another illustrative animation by ASIF commenter Thawing Thunder showing the anatomy of the Wrangel Arm: