After a relatively rapid decline at the beginning of June Arctic sea extent is now very close to the 2010s average:
Both 2020 and 2021 began relatively rapid declines of their own at the beginning of July, so it will be interesting to see if 2022 follows suit.
Most of the fast ice off Utqiaġvik has recently disappeared:
Meanwhile further out into the Chukchi Sea the sea ice looks to be in poor shape at the moment, with surface melting apparent across the entire region:
With only a few large floes still intact, further declines look likely:
The Beaufort Sea is similarly beset with surface melt at the moment, but has yet to follow the Chukchi’s lead in extent decline:
Finally, for the moment at least, here is the NSIDC’s Arctic sea ice age map for the beginning of June:
It shows a light sprinkling of older ice across the southern Beaufort Sea. How long will it survive, given the heat and moisture currently heading in its direction?[Edit – July 5th]
A glimpse of the fractured sea ice near the North Pole:
To help see through the clouds across the Arctic Ocean, here too is the current AMSR2 sea ice concentration map:[Edit – July 6th]
The PIOMAS volume data for June 2022 has been released:
Average Arctic sea ice volume in June 2022 was 17,000 km3. This value is the 9th lowest on record for June, about 1,700 km3 above the record set in 2017. Monthly ice volume was 48% below the maximum in 1979 and 22% below the mean value for 1979-2021.
Ice growth anomalies for June 2022 dropped to the middle range 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 June 2022 relative to 2011-2020 continues the previous months pattern that divides the Arctic in two halves with positive anomalies in the “Western Arctic” , a strong positive anomaly in the Eastern Beaufort but negative anomalies in “Eastern Arctic”.
Here’s the PIOMAS modelled Arctic sea ice thickness map for June 30th:[Edit – July 7th]
The July edition of the NSIDC’s Arctic Sea Ice News summarises June 2022 as follows:
Average Arctic sea ice extent for June 2022 was 10.86 million square kilometers (4.19 million square miles), ranking tenth lowest in the satellite record. The 2022 June extent was 900,000 square kilometers (347,000 square miles) below the 1981 to 2010 average. Total ice loss for June was 2.50 million square kilometers (965,000 square miles)…
The Barents Sea is nearly ice free, with the ice edge far north of its usual location for this time of year. Hudson Bay is also losing ice unusually early. Extent in the Chukchi, East Siberian, and Kara Seas is slightly below average. The most notable feature along the Russian coast is the opening of a large polynya in the Laptev Sea near the New Siberian Islands. Baffin Bay has near average ice extent, and in early June the North Water Polynya opened. Some extensive low-ice-concentration regions are forming over the central Arctic Ocean, perhaps portending large polynyas in the later part of the summer…
June air temperatures over the Arctic as assessed at the 925 hPa level (approximately 2,500 feet above the surface) were close to the long-term average. Most of the high-latitude Arctic Ocean was within a degree of the 1981 to 2010 average temperature.
The June sea level pressure pattern was characterized by strong high pressure over the Beaufort Sea and a large low pressure area near Iceland. This pattern is consistent with the warmth over Scandinavia and relatively cool conditions over Baffin Bay. A broad area of low pressure also dominates northwestern Eurasia. The strong high pressure over the Beaufort Sea, and generally high pressures over much of the Arctic Ocean, is consistent with a prevalence of clear skies. Since June is the month of the solstice, with the highest sun elevation, the clear skies let more solar energy reach the ice surface, leading to strong surface melting…
The article also includes discussion of a new paper on air temperature over the Barents Sea:
As a result of the more open ocean conditions, the trend in air temperature in the region is extreme: up to ten times the global trend in warming. This was highlighted in a recent study by Isaksen and others. Sea ice acts as a lid in autumn and winter, separating the fairly warm open ocean, which is just above freezing, from the cold Arctic air. Removing the ice results in a large transfer of heat from the ocean to the atmosphere, and therefore atmospheric warming.
The deeper issue is why the sea ice in the northern Barents Sea is declining, and it may be related to the “Atlantification” of the Arctic Ocean. Warm and salty Atlantic water enters the Arctic Ocean through the Barents Sea and eastern Fram Strait, and dives beneath the cold, relatively fresh and less dense surface layer of the Arctic Ocean. Previous research has shown that the fresh surface layer is thinning as a result of less summer sea ice, allowing heat from the Atlantic water to reach the surface, preventing winter sea ice from forming in the Barents Sea region. In short, some parts of the Barents Sea have started to resemble the Atlantic.
As Isaksen et al. put it:
The decline in the Barents sea ice cover, increased ocean temperature and salinity are closely related to the higher temperatures in the Atlantic Water and increased ocean heat transport entering the region from the west. In addition, the increase in salinity is larger towards the upper layers, leading to a weakened ocean stratification and hereby an increased upward heat flux. These oceanographic processes strongly contribute to the amplified warming in the region and enable larger heat flux interaction between the ocean and the air. If the rise in ocean temperature and salinity continues, the originally cold and stratified Arctic shelf region may be transformed into an Atlantic-dominated climate regime with a warmer and more well-mixed water column strongly preventing sea ice formation.
The NSIDC also speculates about the effects of the current La Niña pattern in the equatorial Pacific Ocean on Arctic sea ice:
[Edit – July 12th]
Beginning around July 2020, a moderate La Niña pattern developed, characterized by a large pool of relatively cool water in the eastern tropical Pacific. This event has persisted with a brief hiatus in the summer of 2021. It is forecast to last through the end of the year, with some variations, generally weakening as the year progresses. Along with the La Niña pattern, a pool of unusually warm water has formed in the northern Pacific…
However, the air pressure pattern in June is unlike past La Niña events that led to rapid ice loss like in the 2012 summer, which set a satellite-era record low September sea ice minimum.
The NSIDC’s weekly sea ice age map is now available up to July 1st:
Here too is the latest AMSR2 sea ice concentration map, showing a large area of reduced concentration ice stretching from the Laptev Sea to the North Pole:[Edit – July 15th]
After low pressure domination for several weeks it now looks as though high pressure may be about to take over in the central Arctic. Here’s the GFS forecast for Tuesday 19th:[Edit – July 20th]
The Polar Science Center have released their mid July data. Here’s the PIOMAS modelled Arctic sea ice thickness map for July 15th:
According to Steven on the Arctic Sea Ice Forum:
PIOMAS volume for 15 July 2022 was 10.41k km3, which is 10th lowest for the date.
With high pressure in place here too is a fairly clear view of the “Laptev Bite” this morning:[Edit – July 22nd]
The view from on high has cleared almost to the North Pole:[Edit – July 24th]
The rate of extent decline has increased over recent days. Is 2022 more likely to follow the path of 2012, 2013 or 2016 to this year’s minimum?
For comparison purposes here are “pseudo colour” satellite images of the North Pole on July 21st 2013:
and the same date in 2016:
Click the images for a much closer look.[Edit – July 25th]
A fairly clear view of the Lincoln Sea from on high today. Click the image for a much closer look:
Since the North Pole is hiding below the clouds today here too is AMSR2’s view of the fragmented sea ice between Kap Morris Jesup, the Pole and the Laptev Sea, amongst other things:[Edit – July 27th]
The July 2022 Sea Ice Outlook has now been published by the Sea Ice Prediction Network:
For the Arctic, the median July Outlook for September 2022 median pan-Arctic sea-ice extent is 4.64 million square kilometers, slightly higher than the median cited in the June report of 4.57 million square kilometers. Predictions based on the 19 statistical models have a median of 4.65 million square kilometers, while those from the ten dynamical models have a median of 4.65 million square kilometers. The one prediction from the heuristic approach is 4.25 million square kilometers. Overall, predicted values are similar to those reported in the June 2022 outlook. None of the predictions are for a new record low extent.
Watch this space!