The April edition of the NSIDC’s Arctic Sea Ice News summarises March 2022 as follows:
Average Arctic sea ice extent for March 2022 was 14.59 million square kilometers (5.63 million square miles), ranking ninth lowest in the satellite record…
The total decline, after a series of small ups and downs, was only 250,000 square kilometers (96,500 square miles):
Counter to what might be expected given the very slow rate of sea ice loss over the month as a whole, air temperatures at the 925 millibar level (about 2,500 feet above the surface) were above average over all of the Arctic Ocean:
March temperatures were up to 9 degrees Celsius (16 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than average north of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, up to 6 degrees Celsius (11 degrees Fahrenheit) above average in the East Siberian Sea, but up to 5 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit) above average over a wide area.
The key features of the sea level pressure pattern were high pressure (an anticyclone) over the central Arctic Ocean, a trough of low pressure extending into the Barents Sea, and an unusually high pressure over Northern Europe:
While having an anticyclone over the central Arctic Ocean is quite typical for this time of year, the combination of the high pressure over northern Europe and the pressure trough to the west led to a strong pressure gradient, leading to strong winds from south through the Norwegian and Barents Seas…
This can be tied to the extreme warm event over the Arctic Ocean seen in the middle of the month, associated with strong water vapor transport and the passage of several strong cyclones.
The Polar Science Center at the University of Washington has also released the PIOMAS volume data for March 2022:
Average Arctic sea ice volume in March 2022 was 21,700 km3. This value is the 6th lowest on record for March, about 2,200 km3 above the record set in 2017. Monthly ice volume was 38% below the maximum in 1979 and 25% below the mean value for 1979-2021:
Ice growth anomalies for March 2022 continued to be at the upper end of the most recent decade with a mean ice thickness (above 15 cm thickness) at the middle of recent values:
The ice thickness anomaly map for March 2022 relative to 2011-2020 divides the Arctic in two halves with positive anomalies in the “Western Arctic” but negative anomalies in “Eastern Arctic”. A narrow band of negative anomalies remains along the coast of North of Greenland but positive anomaly exists north of Baffin Island.
[Edit – April 10th]
CryoSat 2 ice thickness shows an similar pattern of sea ice thickness anomalies though the areas North of Greenland and Baffin Bay show substantial differences:
Here are the latest graphs of our favourite “high resolution” AMSR2 metrics, which combine recent data from the Alfred Wegener Institute with historical data from the University of Hamburg:
As you can see, there have indeed been a few ups and downs! Click the image below to see a 10 Mb animation of ice motion over the last few weeks:
The obvious point to note at the moment is that there are currently long flaw leads on both the Siberian and Canadian sides of the Arctic Ocean. The animation also reveals episodes of open water in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, as well as north of Franz Josef Land and Svalbard.
The ice in those areas is still very thin on the latest AWI CryoSat-2/SMOS sea ice thickness map:
Here too is the latest AWI CryoSat-2/SMOS volume graph:
The reanalysed data is now showing something of a surge towards the end of February.[Edit – April 23rd]
Here’s the last “near real time” AWI CryoSat-2/SMOS Arctic sea ice thickness map for Spring 2022:
The significantly thinner areas in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas are even more pronounced than previously. Here also is the associated CS2/SMOS volume graph:
The 2022 maximum volume based on NRT data is 19719 km³ on April 5th. Expect that to be revised upwards when the reanalysed data is ultimately published.
Going back to 2 dimensions, the assorted “ups and downs” now seem to have resolved into the melting season proper:
The peripheral sea have been responsible for most of the recent decline:
However as mentioned above, the Chukchi Sea has been experiencing some ups and downs of its own. Perhaps the sun is now high enough in the sky for the most recent “down” to stick around for the summer?[Edit – April 24th]
Over the last couple of days some open water has appeared in the Beaufort Sea off the Mackenzie Delta:[Edit – April 25th]
Especially for Taylor, here’s the GFS Arctic snow depth forecast for 10 days into the future:
See in particular the Beaufort and Chukchi areas.
Please also see the new open thread for May 2022