The 2017 Arctic Sea Ice Maximum Extent

It’s far too early to be sure about this yet, but it’s not beyond the bounds of possibility that the 2017 maximum is already in place. Here’s our favourite high resolution extent graph calculated by “Wipneus” from University of Hamburg/JAXA AMSR2 data:


The current maximum Arctic sea ice extent for 2017 is 13.49 million square kilometers on February 19th. Here’s Arctic sea ice area for good measure:


The current maximum area for 2017 is 12.88 million square kilometers on February 20th. Here also is the NSIDC’s 5 day averaged extent:


This reveals a current maximum extent for 2017 of 14.302 million square kilometers on February 20th.


[Edit – March 1st]

Here are the high resolution AMSR2 area and extent graphs for the end of February:



With each day that passes the highs of February 19th/20th look more likely to have been this years maximum. Nonetheless past experience suggests it’s still far to soon to be sure about that.


[Edit – March 10th]

Arctic sea ice area and extent are declining again, having reached new heights for the year on March 3rd:



However the 2013/14 winter showed a late surge is still possible.


[Edit – March 18th]

A “late surge” is looking increasingly unlikely. That being the case, here is our provisional long term graph of NSIDC daily Arctic sea ice extent:


Subject to an unanticipated “surge” the 2017 maximum of 14.447 million square kilometers occurred on March 5th.

JAXA extent has dropped steeply over the last couple of days, and it is now once again “lowest for the date since records began”:


The 2017 JAXA maximum of 13.878 million square kilometers occurred on March 6th.

In the continuing absence of updates to Cryosphere Today area, here’s the high resolution Arctic sea ice area graph calculated by “Wipneus” from University of Hamburg/JAXA AMSR2 data:


The maximum for that particular metric was 13.03 million square kilometers on March 3rd.

Watch this space!

12 thoughts on “The 2017 Arctic Sea Ice Maximum Extent

  1. Jim, I was trying to explain what’s going on- or indeed see evidence of all this being reflected in other indicators- by looking into moulins on Greenland.

    The moulins are all on/near the coast when you look at google maps so therefore I shouldn’t be worried about the moulins at all as they are relatively small fry: is that right?

    Also a near step change seems to happen in those top two graphs around mid-November… is mid-November itself changing in the Arctic or is that the normal timetable of events?

      1. Ok, I know nothing about moulins…I’ll get back to that subject one day.

        I think you might like this:

        Check it out especially around 25:20 .

        That new guy, 5to10, on the ASIF posted a 12 minute version of the same thing (…that starts around the 15 minute range I think…)

        It’s to do with lakes and, well… I’ll just let you interpret it! I know you like lakes!!

        [Embedded video – Jim]

        1. Thanks SML – I’ve seen it before, but it never hurts to reinforce the message:

          By any measure that’s an abrupt climate change. In less than a human lifetime Arctic sea ice has shrunk tremendously. Shrunk noticeably. Shrunk significantly. You pick your adjective.

          1. UH AMSR2 extent has posted a marginal new high of 13.50 million square kilometres on February 22nd. The previous area maximum hasn’t been exceeded though, and both area and extent are heading down again as we speak:



            So is JAXA extent:


            Watch this space!

  2. Cool, I am watching this space.


    Shared Humanity
    ASIF Upper Class

    And we must keep in mind that, despite all of the very thick ice in the Beaufort last year, it melted out completely. This melt season will be riveting.
    This poster from ASIF says that 2016 WAS (as in, factually!) bad for the multi year sea ice in the arctic.

    If my Dad told me in Jan/Feb last year that this year (2016) could be the end of the multi year sea ice in the arctic- because that was obviously the subject of our conversation for the previous, ya know, coupl'a' years: HOW DID HE KNOW THAT?


    {..obviously I place some small element of faith in my dad: <frustrated plus, lol !??! }

    ((ha not!!))

  3. Hello Jim, I think you’re right. I posted my blog on the new arctic SIE record low maximum today (March 18). I’ve been checking against the JAXA Vishop page, and at this point over 75% of the SIE maximums for previous years have already passed, but the real clincher was that as of (actually 15/3) there has been no year in the past 17 years where the SIE has risen from this date by more than the SIE for 2017 has fallen since its maximum on 06/03. For the figures up to 16/03, the 2017 fall from its maximum is around twice that of the maximum rise in every previous year since 2000 from 16/03.

    Therefore the maximum can be called.

    1. Mornin’ Julian (UTC)

      Your analysis parallels my own. JAXA extent dropped another ~50k or so this morning.

      I clicked through to your site and I’m intrigued. Apart from programming mainframes in FORTRAN I learnt my craft using Z80 assembler on a Nascom 1!

  4. The DMI web site is back up and running, so without further ado here’s DMI temperature:


    followed by DMI extent:


    We’ll need to wait a while for the red “operational” line to turn black, but it looks as though DMI (or OSI-SAF in actual fact) has posted a much later maximum than the other metrics we’ve looked at so far.

    Last but not least here’s the University of Bremen’s AMSR2 based extent:


  5. The NSIDC have officially called the 2017 maximum extent. In a press release they say that:

    Arctic sea ice was at a record low maximum extent for the third straight year, according to scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) and NASA.

    On March 7, sea ice extent over the Arctic Ocean reached 14.42 million square kilometers (5.57 million square miles), then gradually began its decline with the start of the melt season.

    The 2017 Arctic maximum is now the lowest in the 38-year satellite record, beating 2015’s maximum of 14.517 million square kilometers (5.605 million square miles) on February 25, and 2016’s maximum of 14.52 million square kilometers (5.606 million square miles).

    NSIDC director Mark Serreze said, “I have been looking at Arctic weather patterns for 35 years and have never seen anything close to what we’ve experienced these past two winters.”

    “Thin ice and beset by warm weather—not a good way to begin the melt season,” said NSIDC lead scientist Ted Scambos.

    NSIDC scientist Julienne Stroeve said, “Such thin ice going into the melt season sets us up for the possibility of record low sea ice conditions this September.” Stroeve is also professor of polar observation and modeling at the University College London.

    “While the Arctic maximum is not as important as the seasonal minimum, the long-term decline is a clear indicator of climate change,” said Walt Meier, a scientist at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Cryospheric Sciences Laboratory and an affiliate scientist at NSIDC.

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