Facts About the Arctic in June 2024

The JAXA/ViSHOP web site is currently down, so here is the current OSI SAF extent graph for the end of May:

2012’s “June cliff” is almost upon us, and if 2024’s current trajectory continues extent will cross above 2012 for the first time since February in a week or so.

Here’s the GFS model’s current map of snow depth:

Melt ponds are now visible on the ice in the Laptev Sea:

“False colour” image of the Laptev Sea on May 31st from the MODIS instrument on the Terra satellite

and the Coronation Gulf:

“False colour” image of the Coronation Gulf on May 31st from the MODIS instrument on the Aqua satellite

The Amundsen Gulf is almost entirely free from ice, and hence sea ice area in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago is near an all time low for the date in the AMSR2 era:

Sea ice area in Hudson Bay is lowest for the date by a considerable margin:

However, sea ice area on the Atlantic periphery is at a record high for the date in the AMSR2 era:

[Update – June 4th]

The PIOMAS gridded thickness data for May 2024 is now available. Here’s the end of month volume graph:

PIOMAS volume is up to 13th lowest in the satellite era. Here too is the end of month thickness map:

The Beaufort Sea continues to look vulnerable to early melting. The latest Canadian Ice Service chart shows the expected arm of old ice across the northern Beaufort. However, it remains below 2 metres in thickness according to PIOMAS:

[Update – June 5th]

The May edition of the National Snow and Ice Data Center’s Arctic Sea Ice News reports that:

The average Arctic sea ice extent for May 2024 was 12.78 million square kilometers, tying for twelfth lowest with 2007 in the passive microwave satellite record. As of the beginning of June, extent is well below average in the Hudson Bay and slightly below average elsewhere. Some coastal areas around the Arctic Ocean are beginning to open up, particularly in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas:

Atmospheric conditions over the Arctic were variable during May. Relatively cool conditions reigned over the Bering and Chukchi Seas as well as the Barents and Kara Seas, with air temperatures at the 925 millibar level (about 2,500 feet above sea level) 1 to 3 degrees Celsius below average. By contrast, temperatures in the Laptev and East Siberian Seas were 2 to 4 degrees Celsius above average. Temperatures over the Canadian Archipelago and northwestern Hudson Bay were 4 to 5 degrees Celsius above average. It was relatively cool over most of Greenland:

The sea level pressure pattern for May was marked by high pressure centered over the Canadian Archipelago with lower pressures to the south… This played a large role in the opening of the eastern Hudson Bay by fostering winds from the east that pushed the sea ice west. Pressures were somewhat low from central Russia extending east into Canada, as well as southeast of Greenland:

[Update – June 6th]

There’s now plenty of surface melt visible across the Laptev Sea:

“False colour” image of the Laptev Sea on June 6th from the MODIS instrument on the Aqua satellite

the eastern Beaufort Sea:

“False colour” image of the Beaufort Sea on June 5th from the MODIS instrument on the Terra satellite

and the western Canadian Arctic Archipelago:

“False colour” image of the CAA on June 5th from the MODIS instrument on the Terra satellite

Here’s the current Northern Hemisphere Multisensor Snow Extent graph :

GFS currently predicts that persistent high pressure over the central Arctic will result in the loss of almost all snow cover across the Arctic Ocean by the end of the forecast period:

Snow melt and bottom melt appear to have started at ice mass balance buoy 2024I, currently located at 75.34 N, 147.40 W:

[Update – June 7th]

The JAXA web site is back in action, and reveals that their flavour of extent has dropped below the 2010s average again, and won’t be crossing above the 2012 curve just yet.

Most of the snow that surrounds ice mass balance buoy 2024E has melted. The buoy is currently located at 74.68 N, 151.70 W:

Whilst we’re on the topic of snow cover, The May Rutgers Global Snow Lab northern hemisphere snow cover anomaly data has been released:

Finally, for the moment at least, here is the latest map of Arctic sea ice age:

[Update – June 8th]

JAXA extent is forming a “June cliff” in 2024. Having dropped by 500,000 km² in 5 days it’s now 6th lowest for the date in the satellite era.

Surface melt has started at IMB buoy 2024E. It’s a pity that part of the thermometer chain has failed just as things start to get really interesting:

[Update – June 11th]

Plenty of surface melt is now visible in the channels between Ellesmere and Axel Heiberg Islands:

“False colour” image of Ellesmere Island on June 10th from the MODIS instrument on the Terra satellite

There are also large cracks visible in the (currently!) fast ice in the Nares Strait, and signs of surface melt beginning in the Kane Basin and in Petermann Fjord.

[Update – June 14th]

JAXA extent is now higher than on the same day of the year in 2012 for the first time since February:

Ice surface melt has now started at buoys 2024F, 2024H and 2024I, located in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas:

To be continued…

6 thoughts on “Facts About the Arctic in June 2024

  1. Looks like it could be a bad year for the Beaufort again (even this early on)
    Which in my opinion is bad, the older ice on the other side of the arctic usually ends up out the Fram Straight

    1. It looks that way to me too Tom. The Amundsen Gulf and Eastern Beaufort appear to be in a worse state than on the same date in 2012, for example.

  2. arctic-news blogspot has a new post saying volume of arctic ice is at record low. Also comparing extent to area and concentration. Seems like extent is not the best indicator – unless someone is a DeNile-ist.

    1. Extent is certainly not the only indicator, or indeed the best one. Particularly at this time of year.

      Whilst DMI’s version may agree with Sam that the “volume of arctic ice is at record low” (for the satellite era), PIOMAS does not. See above.

      And despite having it explained slowly on XTwitter by yours truly and Bremen University, Sam still bizarrely asserts that:

      “The Uni of Bremen image on the left shows sea ice thickness in cm on June 11, 2024”

      The Bremen web site states that:

      In the melting season, the thickness of sea ice is highly variable and the emission properties in the microwave change due to the wetness of the surface and occurrence of melt ponds in the Arctic.

      Therefore, thickness data are calculated only during the freezing season, that is from October to April in the Arctic and from March to September in the Antarctic. During the melting season, the procedure does not yield meaningful results.

      Two variants of the data SMOS sea ice thickness data are processed, an RFI filtered version and a raw unfiltered version. Despite L-band emission at the SMOS&SMAP frequency being banned for communication, strong emissions from various sources on the ground may affect the sensitive instruments and cause large errors in the ice thickness data. We use the RFI related flags in the SMOS L1C and SMAP L1b data to filter out affected data. It is, in general, advisable to use the filtered version of the SMOS product or the SMOS&SMAP combined product, where this data is filtered by default.

      1. So you’re saying it’s …. well if we keep reading on they clarify to only rely on a larger scale reading of both data sources combined?
        “During the polar summers due to melting or other morphological changes of the sea ice surface that change the emisivity, the retrieved sea ice thickness will not be considered meaningful.

        The resolution of both satellites is approximately 40~km, so just retrievals over this area or larger, should be considered to be correct. Due to the large resolution, the thin sea ice at the ice edge should be considered with care due to smearing effects. The same problem appears in coastal areas where the ocean pixels will be contaminated by land emissions, generating SIT all along the coasts. ”
        Why else do they even post the data during the summer time period – outside those “accurate” reading months?

        1. “Why else do they even post the data during the summer time period”

          They don’t, on the main SMOS page at least. In the northern hemisphere summer it shows “thin ice thickness” in Antarctica.

          However, if you know where to look the algorithm keeps running all year round. Folks on the Arctic Sea Ice Forum try to use the data as an indicator of “surface melt area” for example:

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