During the melting season I'm writing (bi-)weekly updates on the current situation with regards to Arctic sea ice (ASI). Central to these updates are the daily IJIS sea ice extent (SIE) and Cryosphere Today sea ice area (SIA) numbers, which I compare to data from the 2005-2011 period (NSIDC has a good explanation of sea ice extent and area in their FAQ). I also look at other things like regional sea ice area, compactness, temperature and weather forecasts, anything that can be of particular interest.
Check out the Arctic Sea Ice Graphs website for
daily updated graphs, maps and live webcam images.
July 1st 2012
The ASI update from two weeks ago ended with a couple of questions:
Will the conditions that were so conducive to melting have an inertia-like effect on the SIE and SIA numbers? And what is that big low going to do? Will it tear up the ice pack so we get to see the holes we did in the 2010 melting season? And how about those highs over the Siberian coast during Summer Solstice?
As expected the speedy decrease slowed down considerably, but enough was going on all around the Arctic for the 2012 SIE and SIA trend lines to stay close to the bottom years. That big low-pressure system definitely left a mark all over the Arctic, see for instance the holes in the ice pack on this satellite image for June 26th. It is very reminiscent of 2010, but earlier this time around. And those highs over the Siberian coast? I think they had something to do with SST anomaly charts needing extra colours.
On the day the last ASI update came out, LiveScience had an article about this year's potential new record, with a couple of quotes from the NSIDC's Dr Walt Meier (also known as Saint Walt because of his missionary work in certain corners of the blogosphere):
The tilt of the Earth's axis means the sun does not set above the Arctic Circle on the summer solstice, with summer days growing longer even farther north. As a result, the more dark water exposed to sunlight around this time, the more heat it can soak up.
"In a way it is almost like building up a bank account of heat," Meier said.
Everything is pointing towards a lot of savings in this respect, and interest will probably be high too. But 2012 also has a little piggy bank of melting potential that the other years with low SIE and SIA did not have. While melting very rapidly on the Atlantic side of the Arctic, 2012 decrease is still relatively slow in easy ice places like Hudson Bay and the Greenland Sea. If the weather allows 2012 to break that little piggy bank we will witness another radical nosedive.
All of this and more in ASI update 6.