This post is about global sea ice area, the simple addition of Arctic and Antarctic sea ice area.
As a statistic it's somewhat interesting, but it doesn't convey all that much information about the individual health of both polar regions,
let alone their sub-regions.
Despite this fact, or probably because of it, it's often being touted by climate risk deniers as proof that global warming is a scam and all is well, because Arctic sea ice loss is compensated by a growth in Antarctic sea ice. Even if this were true - it isn't, as this Skeptical Science article explains - it's like saying there is no hunger in the world because there are so many obese people.
But anyway, we're approaching that time of year when global sea ice area as calculated by and presented at Cryosphere Today is going to hit its minimum, or lowest amount of sea ice cover. And currently the number is quite low, as can be seen on this graph from Piotr Djaków's Pogoda i Klimat website:
According to the data 2016 is already 4th lowest at 14.73 million km2, just behind 2007's minimum, and almost 350K behind 2011 and record holder 2006 (14.39 million km2, the grey trend line just below the 2011 green trend line). Below I'll discuss the factors that will determine whether a new record is in the books.
An absolute prerequisite for a new record is for Antarctic sea ice area to go low. Whereas it's freezing in the Arctic right now, it's summer in the Southern Hemisphere and so the Antarctic melting season is slowly moving towards its apogee. If we look at the NSIDC sea ice extent graph for March, for instance, we can see some fairly large swings, with record years 2006 and 2011 standing out with their distinct dips: