Here's a great blog post by Tamino that tells this year's Arctic sea ice story and how a few cowards continuously lie(d) about it to their fellow men:
Global Warming 2016: Arctic Spin
The useful thing about a canary in a coal mine is that it warns you of danger before the danger kills you.
When 2016 began last January 1st, the average temperature throughout the Arctic was fully 18°F (10°C) hotter than usual for New Year’s day, and the extent of sea ice in the Arctic was lower than ever before recorded for that date:
The extra-high temperatures and extra-low sea ice with which the Arctic started the year, was just the beginning.
Arctic sea ice generally grows in extent during the first two months of the year (it being winter and all), and in that regard 2016 was no exception. It didn’t maintain its lowest-for-this-date status on all days, but did skirt the lowest-yet-seen extent consistently during the months of January and February:
Nobody who knows Arctic sea ice was surprised by this. It has been on the decline, overall, for decades, so it’s no surprise that this year’s levels would be at or near their lowest. It’s part and parcel of the ongoing trend of the loss of sea ice in the Arctic.
Nor was it a surprise that, even with an ongoing trend, it wasn’t always at its lowest-ever. Most everything in nature, including sea ice, doesn’t just follow a trend, it also constantly fluctuates. Added to the overall tendency, there are ups and downs and downs and ups that make it different from day to day, month to month, even year to year. But over the long haul, the fluctuations — even though they never stop — never really get anywhere. What does, what keeps on going and accumulates until we can’t ignore it any more, is the trend — and for sea ice in the Arctic, that means there’s less and less of it.
The surprise was what happened in late April and May. Ice extent didn’t just “skirt” the lowest-for-this-time-of-year line, it plunged far below and by May’s end was a whopping (not just surprising but shocking) more than half a million square kilometers less — not less than “average,” but less than seen before: