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.
May 27th 2016
After an unprecedented warm winter and an unprecedented early opening of the Beaufort Sea, the 2016 melting season isn't showing any signs of shrugging off the 'unprecedented' label. What has struck me most so far, is that unprecedented things have been happening on both the Pacific and Atlantic side of the Arctic.
I've been closely observing events in the Arctic for almost a decade now, and have been writing about them since 2010, and during that time I have gotten used to this sort of see-saw, where fast melting on one side of the Arctic would be compensated by events unfolding slowly on the other side of the Arctic. But this year is different. This year the ice pack is under attack on both sides of the Arctic.
I have written separate blog posts to describe these events (see here and here), and in weeks to come these ASI updates will provide a comprehensive overview on what is happening to the sea ice in the Arctic, and how this melting season is unfolding.
Sea ice extent (SIE)
Let's jump right into it. Here's the latest JAXA SIE graph:That gap is pretty intense. I wasn't kidding when I said 'unprecedented'. Last year - orange line - was already quite spectacular, but this year is crazy.
As commenter Jim Pettit wrote on the Arctic Sea Ice Forum earlier today: