During the melting season I'm writing (bi-)weekly updates on the current situation with regards to Arctic sea ice (ASI). Because of issues with data based on the SSMIS sensor aboard DMSP satellites, I mainly focus on higher-resolution AMSR2 data from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), as reported on the Arctic Data archive System website. I also look at other things like regional sea ice area, compactness, temperature and weather forecasts, anything of particular interest.
June 29th 2016
The run-up to this melting season was really special, with an unprecedentedly warm winter season and early opening of the Beaufort Sea. Sea ice extent and area numbers went extremely low for the time of year, and sea ice volume reached the depths it was at before the 2013-2015 post-record rebound. But events in the Arctic don't behave like a straight arrow. Not in the short term, at least.
Weather conditions switched around the start of this month (see previous update) and prevented a large-scale soaking up of solar radiation through leads and melt ponds that would've increased the chances of a new record low September minimum even more. The lack of melting momentum has in fact decreased the chances to the point that I'd bet against it. If you want more details, read these two posts, or this blog post by Chris Reynolds that is hot off the press.
Mind you, this is not a melting season like 2013 or 2014 where persistent cloudiness and low temperatures caused relatively high September minimums (compared to top 3 years like 2007, 2011 and 2012, of course; they were well below the long-term average). 2016 still has many aspects going for it, like all that open water in the Beaufort Sea, low volume and snow cover that vanished at record speed. But it will take more to beat 2012, or 2007 and 2011 for that matter.
So, that's the question I will focus on in weeks to come: Can 2016 still make the top 3?