The Arctic year started with the warmest January and February on record:
And then in April, just before the melting season started, things got exciting very early in the Beaufort Sea (animation shows March 30th to May 4th):
This caused a big, early lead on sea ice extent graphs such as JAXA's:
But then in June the weather switched, clouds took over the Arctic, and things stayed that way well into August. Below is a comparison of average sea level pressure maps for June-July in 2007, 2012 and 2016 (green means overall sunny, blue overall cloudy):
Nevertheless 2016 managed to stay close to the top 3 at the end of July:
And then came another big cyclone, reminiscent of the Great Arctic Cyclone of 2012, followed by another very intense storm, followed by a massive Dipole:
The crazy winds from these enormous storms and huge pressure gradients caused massive movement of ice towards Greenland and the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. There was open water all the way up to 86-87N (just like in 2014) and on the American-Pacific side of the Arctic, the ice was pushed all the way up to 135W. Furthermore, the storms ripped the ice apart so much that there was a large zone of very low sea ice concentration near the pole, even more than in 2010 and 2013.
Here's a comparison with other low-ice years that shows how far the ice was pushed towards the CAA, combined with images showing the open water near the Pole and icebreaker Oden at the Pole (courtesy of Jim Hunt):
As a matter of fact, the ice didn't stop at the CAA, but was pushed right through it, a phenomenon we have witnessed before. This older ice is bound to melt out next year at these lower latitudes. Here's an animation made by commenter A-Team showing the ice getting pushed through the CAA garlic press between August 11th and 31st:
It can also be seen towards the end of this Youtube video made by Jim Hunt:
And so, despite cloudy conditions during June, July and part of August, JAXA sea ice extent ended up second lowest on record (as it did on all other graphs on the ASIG):
And while the HMS Terror was found, yet another vessel called the Northabout managed to circumnavigate the Arctic in just one season, meaning the Northwest Passage and Northern Sea Route were open yet again:
Another melting season is behind us. As these images show, there has been plenty of action, and it could have been much, much worse if the Sun would've reigned when it was at its highest point. It seems there is no let-up in Arctic sea ice loss, and it's just a matter of time before a combination of thin ice and adverse conditions make it abundantly clear in which direction things are heading, with all the potential consequences it entails.