June has arrived, and according to the Great White Con Arctic sea ice calendar that means the summer surface melting season has started. Once July arrives bottom melt should have started in earnest too, but for now let’s stick to the surface. Here’s the Climate Reanalyzer map of Arctic surface air temperatures at 06:00 UTC this morning:
Green areas are above 0 degrees Celsius, and bear in mind that the melting point of sea ice is at around -1.8 degrees Celsius. The red areas near the East Siberian Sea coast are 25-30 degrees Celsius. Given those sort of temperatures you might well think that some snow and/or ice in that area would be melting, and you would be correct! Here is the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s current map of Arctic surface melting:
The assorted shades of blue/grey show the areas where surface melting is already underway. Whilst this melting is taking place you may possibly read in some quarters of the cryodenialosphere that “There is almost no melting going on in the Arctic“. The authors of such nonsense evidently don’t know their proverbial Arctic arse from their elbow.
Here’s how today’s surface melting in the East Siberian Sea looks from space:
Meanwhile over on the other side of the Arctic, here’s yesterday’s surface melting on “Amundsen’s Route” through the Northwest Passage:
By way of further illustration of the fact that Arctic sea ice is and has been melting, here is a graph of the current area of sea ice in the all important central area of the Arctic Basin, courtesy of “Wipneus” at Arctische Pinguin:
The areas included are the Central Arctic Basin, plus the Beaufort, Chukchi, East Siberian and Laptev Seas. The above zero temperatures are forecast to spread across the Central Arctic Basin early next week, whereupon it will be very interesting to discover what happens to the snow around the single ice mass balance buoy currently transmitting near real time data. Here is the current temperature profile for the sea ice underneath IMB buoy 2015F:
The current conditions there are summarised this morning as:
Pos: 82.00 N, 147.45 W
Air Temp: -3.74 C
Air Pres: 1007.42 mb
Snow depth: 21 cm
Ice thickness: 202 cm
Normally by now there would also be a number of webcams beaming back pictures from across the sea ice in the Arctic Basin. However according to NOAA:
Due to funding constraints, it was not possible to deploy new Web Cams in Spring 2016, but deployments in Spring 2017 are planned.
Three of the camera carrying O-Buoys also seem to have failed over the winter, which leaves us with only O-Buoy 14 to reveal the forthcoming melt to us:
O-Buoy 14 is currently colocated with Ice Tethered Profiler 89, the yellow object in the foreground, at 77.49° N, 153.92° W, to the north of the Beaufort Sea. ITP 89 measures the temperature and salinity of the water beneath the sea ice and revealed this the last time it managed to take a measurement, a month or so ago:
If you examine the extreme right hand edge of the charts carefully you will no doubt note that the water underneath the ice has recently become both warmer and saltier.
Watch this space!
The latest JAXA/ADS map shows that the area of sea ice undergoing surface melting has increased since yesterday, particularly over the Chukchi Sea:
The recent clouds over the Beaufort Sea cleared yesterday. Here’s a close up view of the open water between the big floes from the Suomi satellite:
For a more distant perspective see our Summer 2016 image archive.
It’s not simply the surface that’s melting either. Here’s the latest “high resolution” AMSR2 sea ice area graph for the Pacific side of the Arctic: