September 2nd 2013
We have almost reached the end of the 2013 melting season, perhaps even earlier than in the last couple of years. After months of predominantly cyclonic weather - that has pushed the ice pack apart, but at the same time preserved a lot of the first-year ice - there are large patches with low sea ice concentrations within the ice pack (also see this recent blog post). Here's an animation of images provided by Wipneus, based on Uni Hamburg data, showing what has happened from August 28th to 31st:
There's some compaction going on, but the open water within the ice pack is easier to freeze and ice floes get re-connected to each other. This will slow down whatever melt, compaction and transport there is left, or even supersede it and thus effectively end the melting season.
Of course, it all depends on the exact weather conditions (more on that later this week), and we have to keep in mind that a significant part of the ice pack is very fragile. In fact, a third of the ice pack that was almost cut off from the main ice pack north of Greenland and the Canadian Archipelago, would have probably melted out if weather conditions hadn't been the exact opposite from previous melting seasons. More on that later as well.
Let's first have that overview of the current situation.