2016 has come to a close, and unfortunately the story hasn't improved. Due to a constant barrage of storms, bringing relatively warm temperatures, winds and moisture to the Arctic, sea ice still has problems forming at the edges, as well as thickening in the centre. And thus the year has closed with the lowest modeled sea ice volume on record. In fact, 2016 has increased its lead over 2011 and 2012 to 1934 and 843 km3 respectively.
Here's how the differences with previous years have evolved from last month:
And here's Wipneus' version:
Here's Jim Pettit's perspective on the data. Just look at how much less sea ice volume there is compared to the start of 2016 (2664 km3):
Back to the Polar Science Center and their PIOMAS sea ice volume anomaly graph. The trend line is on the edge between the 1 and 2 standard deviation territories. Just how low that actually is, becomes clear when comparing the graph to that of last year:
Normally, if extent is really low, as it is now, you would expect average thickness to be somewhat higher (when compared to years with more extent), because the volume is spread out less. If there's more extent, it's usually because of a lot of thin ice on the edges, causing average thickness numbers to go up less steeply.
However, because volume is also at a record low, there's no such effect on average thickness numbers. This can clearly be seen on the PIJAMAS graph, a crude calculation of PIOMAS volume numbers divided by total JAXA sea ice extent:
Yes, average thickness is actually lowest on record as well. Look at the orange 2015 trend line. At the end of 2015 sea ice extent was around the same value as 2016, but, as said, there was 2664 km3 more volume, and so average thickness was relatively high. This year, volume record low, extent record low, and so average thickness record low. On average, 2016 is 20 cm thinner than 2015. That's a lot of ice.
And yes, the thickness plot from the Polar Science Center is showing the same:
There's just no end to this run we have had with anomalously warm temperatures, and storms blowing in from the Atlantic. Maybe things will calm down as soon as global temperatures stop going up at the rapid rate of the past few years. Maybe they won't. There's nothing for it but to hope that an extreme cold spell comes in from somewhere (Siberia?) and the ice gets a chance to thicken before the Sun makes its appearance in March/April. Otherwise things will be looking more grim than ever when the melting season starts again.
Sorry for not being able to give this a positive twist. Call Matt Ridley, he's good at giving the truth a taste of caviar and Cuban cigars.