Professor Judith Curry recently posed the following rhetorical question on her “Climate Etc.” blog:
Arctic sea ice extent has been anomalously low this winter. The greatest anomalies are in the European sector, specifically in the Barents Sea. To what extent are the anomalies associated with warm temperatures?
Which she answered as follows:
So, what might be causing this particular anomaly? Some possibilities are:
Gobal warming (January 2016 was warmest Jan on record, according to the surface temperature analyses
Multidecadal oscillations (e.g. stadium wave) predicts ice recovery to be occurring in the same region (European Arctic) where we see the sea ice decline).
Seasonal weather circulation patterns – this has been a year with with unusual weather patterns, with both low temperature and high temperature records being set.
As regular readers will already be aware we have been blogging about anomalously warm temperatures in the Arctic all year and so felt well qualified to contribute to the “debate”. What a job that turned out to be! Early on in the proceedings the anticipated pronouncement was made by one of Judith’s “denizens”. A link to a ludicrously inaccurate article on Watts Up With That accompanied by the following words of wisdom:
Other measures are high.
Which of course they aren’t! Instead of stating the bleedin’ obvious Professor Curry replied:
I spotted this, no idea what to make of it.
You would think she and her denizens would therefore have been pleased when I attempted to explain to her what to make of it, but you would have been mistaken. The icing on the ad hominem cake was the aforementioned Anthony Watts driving by to accuse me of all sorts of nefarious activities without providing a single shred of evidence and then running for the hills when invited to actually prove his ludicrous allegations.
Since the denizens of “Climate Etc.” aren’t particularly interested let’s take stock here instead shall we? After every Arctic area and extent metric under the sun sitting at “lowest *ever” levels for weeks a recent increase in coverage on the Pacific side of the Arctic has changed that. The most up to date example of that is the JAXA/ADS extent, which currently looks like this:
The latest reading is the merest whisker above 2015’s record low maximum. However in other respects things are most certainly not comparable with 2015. See for example this concentration comparison from Andrew Slater of the NSIDC:
Much more ice on the Pacific periphery where it will all have disappeared by September, as opposed to much less ice on the Atlantic side, even well to the north of 80 degrees latitude where the sun still does not shine. Here’s a video revealing how the sea ice North of the Pacific Ocean has been reacting to the sequence of hurricane force storms that have been passing through the area over the past couple of months:
Now let’s take a look at “near real time” Arctic sea ice thickness as measured by the CryoSat 2 satellite:
Notice the absence of any thick ice in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, an obvious difference from last year? Notice too the large area of thick ice that looks as though it’s heading towards the Fram strait exit from the Central Arctic. Here’s another video, this time of sea ice movement over on the Atlantic side of the Arctic Ocean:
Those dark areas between Svalbard and the North Pole are suddenly starting to look as though they represent reality rather than a mere “artifact”, although perhaps they are merely transient evidence of yet another Arctic “heat wave”?