With another interesting freezing season behind us, it's time to compare to previous winters and get an idea of this melting season's foundation. As we have seen in the last two years, the start of the melting season plays an important role, and so it might very well be that the end of the freezing season plays a role as well (what holds for the Arctic summer often is the opposite during winter). If only for the fact that the end of the freezing season is immediately followed by the start of the melting season. Sorry for being so simplistic.
OK, we'll repeat the format from last year and compare the 2013/2014 freezing season with three other freezing seasons. In this case, I have chosen the last three winters (ie preceding the 2011, 2012 and 2013 melting seasons). No 2007? No 2007. I know it's blasphemy, but we have to move on. Click on the images if you want to see a larger version.
It's clear that after last year's 'rebound' the Arctic now contains a lot more multi-year ice than in the last 3 years, as can be clearly seen on these AARI ice age maps for the end of April:
2011's vomiting cow doesn't look all that smaller (the brown colour represents the multi-year ice), but this year's genetically modified mouse is still a tad bigger, with a large bulk of multi-year ice taking up position in the Beaufort and even some of the Chukchi Sea. Whether this will prove to be a protective barrier, as witnessed in 2010 and 2011, remains to be seen.
These ASCAT radar images also show that this year the ice pack contains a lot more whiter ice. Here's a comparison for day 109 (April 19th):