Lots of stories predicting (hoping) that Arctic ice will go lower than 2012 and resuscitate the Arctic “death spiral”. And we can surely predict that Peter Wadhams will predict a September Arctic minimum of 1M km2, as he does every year.
But there’s a long way to go before then, and some historical context is in order.
September Minimum Outlook
Historically, where will ice be remaining when Arctic melting stops? Over the last 10 years, on average MASIE shows the annual minimum occurring about day 260. Of course in a given year, the daily minimum varies slightly a few days +/- from that.
For comparison, here are sea ice extents reported from 2007, 2012, 2014 and 2015 for day 260:
|Central Arctic Sea||2.67||2.64||2.98||2.93|
|Greenland & CAA||0.56||0.41||0.55||0.46|
|Bits & Pieces||0.32||0.04||0.22||0.15|
Notes: Extents are in M km2. BCE region includes Beaufort, Chukchi and Eastern Siberian seas. Greenland Sea (not the ice sheet). Canadian Arctic Archipelago (CAA). Locations of the Bits and Pieces vary.
As the table shows, low NH extents come mainly from ice losses in Central Arctic and BCE. The great 2012 cyclone hit both in order to set the recent record. The recovery since 2012 shows in 2014, with some dropoff last year, mostly in BCE.
We are only beginning the melt season, and the resulting minimum will depend upon the vagaries of weather between now and September. At the moment, 2016 was slightly higher than 2015 in March and is trending toward a similar April extent. Also 2016 melt season is starting without the Blob, with a declining El Nino, and a cold blob in the North Atlantic. It is too early to put Arctic Ice on life support. Meanwhile we can watch and appreciate the beauty of the changing ice conditions.