Arctic Ice March Madness

Updating Arctic ice extents for the first 20 days of March the peak ice month. Lots of changes and surprises, just like the NCAA basketball tournament.

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MASIE shows March 2 as the daily annual maximum, both on average over ten years, and in 2015. March 1, 2016 was the daily max, and SII shows an extent that day lower by 635k km2.  (SII refers to Sea Ice Index produced by NOAA@NSIDC)

As March has progressed, this year and last MASIE shows ice has declined. Meanwhile MASIE ten year average held steady, and 2016 SII added extent in the last week. The gap between MASIE and SII is narrowing in 2016, though SII extents still average almost 400k km2 less for March.

Ice Extents 2015 2016 Ice Extent
Region 2015080 2016080 km2 Diff.
 (0) Northern_Hemisphere 14634556 14593011 -41545
 (1) Beaufort_Sea 1070445 1070445 0
 (2) Chukchi_Sea 966006 965989 -17
 (3) East_Siberian_Sea 1087137 1087120 -17
 (4) Laptev_Sea 897845 897809 -36
 (5) Kara_Sea 920392 916674 -3719
 (6) Barents_Sea 548675 396037 -152638
 (7) Greenland_Sea 666601 557940 -108661
 (8) Baffin_Bay_Gulf_of_St._Lawrence 1829904 1599833 -230072
 (9) Canadian_Archipelago 853214 853178 -36
 (10) Hudson_Bay 1260903 1260871 -33
 (11) Central_Arctic 3248013 3191707 -56306
 (12) Bering_Sea 657014 642235 -14779
 (13) Baltic_Sea 14462 42460 27998
 (14) Sea_of_Okhotsk 606552 1108734 502182

Comparing 2016 on day 80 with 2015 shows the important ice deficits are on the European and Canadian sides: Barents (even lower than last year), along with Greenland Sea, and Baffin Bay. In contrast to 2015, Okhotsk is much more normal this year and almost offsets the losses elsewhere.

With AER and CPC showing the Arctic Oscillation neutral presently, and 14-day forecasts for more of the same, no one knows what to expect. We can only watch and see.

http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/precip/CWlink/daily_ao_index/ao_index_ensm.shtml

For more on discrepancies between MASIE and SII see here.

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