10 days ago I posted a blog post called Mad max. The title - referring to a very early maximum sea ice extent - ended with a question mark, because it was far from sure whether the preliminary max reached on February 15th would remain standing. This is because of the oscillatory nature of the final phase of the freezing season, where weather conditions can cause the ice pack to expand very rapidly in one or more of the fringe regions.
Since posting that blog post, JAXA SIE dropped up to 318 thousand square kilometres below the preliminary maximum, but has since crept upwards again. The current difference is 186 thousand square kilometres, which still is quite significant. In fact, a new max becomes less and less probable as time wears on, with the Sun creeping higher in the sky, shining on larger parts of the ice pack every day.
At the same time, with extent relatively low, there's plenty of freezing potential on the fringes. And we're talking about the Arctic here. It has a reputation of crazy swings to uphold. Here's a map with the names of the regions that have a final say in where the maximum ends up, with the orange line showing the average ice pack edge for the 2000's:
And here are the graphs for each of these regions, produced by the prolific Wipneus, that show what has been happening regionally in the past weeks, with the purple line showing the JAXA SIE data for 2015.
First the regions with freezing potential: