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 Cryosphere Today sea ice area (SIA) and IJIS sea ice extent (SIE) numbers, which I compare to data from the 2005-2014 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 of particular interest.
June 21st 2015
Today is the day of summer solstice, when the Sun reaches its highest point as seen from the North Pole, beating down 24 hours per day on the sea ice below (when not blocked by clouds). The period preceding and following this event is very important for how the melting season plays out, as it is during this time that large parts of the Arctic sea ice pack are preconditioned through melt ponds.
This preconditioning in turn influences melting momentum. A lot of momentum almost guarantees high melt rates, whereas little momentum does the opposite, depending on weather conditions during July and August as well, of course. Last week I wrote a blog post in which I tried to assess the amount of melt ponding through May, by comparing this year to previous years.
The first half of May was extremely cold, with the second half of May showing almost the exact opposite. Still, indications were that relatively few melt ponds have shown up during May and the first half of June. This is now changing, as can be seen on the animation at the upper right hand corner of this blog post, where sea ice concentration is showing a very large blue patch of lower concentration on the Pacific side of the Arctic. That's because weather conditions conducive to melting shifted from the American side to the Siberian side of the Arctic, as was forecast two weeks ago.
Below an assessment of what's been happening in the past two weeks, and what is going to happen next week.
Sea ice area (SIA)
CT SIA recorded a huge 340K drop in one day. The last time a triple century break was recorded was in 2008. This brings the 2015 trend line right in the middle of the highest and lowest trend line in the 2006-2015 period.