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.
August 13th 2016
If it now somehow manages to end the month between 2011 and 2015, there's still room for August weather to keep the race exciting.
The 2016 trend line managed to end July right between 2011 and 2015, it is still in 3rd position as we speak, and now August weather is going to keep the race exciting. Another big cyclone is on its way and will hit the ice pack the day after tomorrow (no pun intended). This storm will not be as intense as the Great Arctic Cyclone of 2012, but it will be almost as big, and linger for a few days. I think it's the second biggest storm I have seen since starting this blog, back in 2010.
It's difficult to tell whether this storm will have as much of an effect as GAC-2012 had. The ice pack was much weaker back then due to plenty of periods that were conducive to melting, in other words melting momentum. There hasn't been much melting momentum to speak of this year, as there has been little preconditioning of the ice pack during May and June, and cloudy conditions kept dominating the Arctic up till last week.
There has been a second kind of momentum, though, caused by the preceding mild winter and the spectacular retreat at the very start of the melting season. Snow cover melted out really fast and sea surface temperatures have been as high as they've ever been. A handful of cyclones so far have helped disperse the ice pack, with quite a large zone of ice, jutting out from the Central Arctic towards the East Siberian Sea, about to bear the brunt of the big storm (source: Uni Bremen):
When the Great Arctic Cyclone hit in 2012 all of the weak ice in this zone detached from the main pack and was annihilated. We'll have to wait and see if something similar can happen this time around.
Sea ice extent (SIE)
As said, the 2016 trend line on the JAXA SIE graph keeps moving downwards steadily: