Arctic Solstice 2016

The darkest time of year at the North Pole is the Winter Solstice, this year on December 21. There has been no sunlight or even twilight since early October. The darkness lasts until the beginning of dawn in early March.

The regrowth of Arctic ice extent was slower than usual until recently. After showing resilience in September, ending higher than 2007, ice growth lagged in October, but is now rapidly ramping up toward the averages.  The map above shows the lack of ice is mainly in marginal seas close to the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

arctic-ice-2016355

In the last 19 days, 2016 ice extent has grown by 100k km2 per day, compared to the 10-year average 70k km2 per day.  As of day 355, 2016 ice extent is ~3% less than average (2006 to 2015).  The chart also shows the variability of ice extent over the years during this month.  2015 was the highest ice recovery rate in the last decade, while 2006 ended up the lowest.  The chart also shows 2016 Sea Ice Index (SII) from NOAA has been lagging behind by  ~300k km2.

The table below shows this year compared to average and to 2006 for day 355.

Region 2016355 Day 355
Average
2016-Ave. 2006355 2016-2006
 (0) Northern_Hemisphere 12239317 12586206 -346889 12148183 91133
 (1) Beaufort_Sea 1070445 1070151 294 1069711 734
 (2) Chukchi_Sea 855058 964292 -109234 966006 -110948
 (3) East_Siberian_Sea 1087137 1087134 3 1087137 0
 (4) Laptev_Sea 897845 897841 4 897845 0
 (5) Kara_Sea 851317 865798 -14482 909296 -57979
 (6) Barents_Sea 169752 380779 -211027 225917 -56165
 (7) Greenland_Sea 487544 584147 -96603 564913 -77369
 (8) Baffin_Bay_Gulf_of_St._Lawrence 952305 886295 66010 733978 218328
 (9) Canadian_Archipelago 853214 853009 205 852767 447
 (10) Hudson_Bay 1241127 1152343 88784 1029530 211596
 (11) Central_Arctic 3148299 3215124 -66825 3206257 -57957
 (12) Bering_Sea 118989 329544 -210555 246957 -127968
 (13) Baltic_Sea 15543 19208 -3665 16 15528
 (14) Sea_of_Okhotsk 477365 266483 210882 344508 132857
 (15) Yellow_Sea 0 4017 -4017 0 0
 (16) Cook_Inlet 5555 7180 -1624 12191 -6635

The main deficit to average is in Barents and Greenland Seas on the Atlantic side, and in Bering and Chukchi Seas on Pacific side.  The Canadian and Siberian sides are locked in ice, with sizable surpluses in Baffin and Hudson Bays, along with Okhotsk.  The differences with 2006 are similar, though resulting in a surplus.

The land of the Midnight Sun at Summer Solstice.

The land of the Midnight Sun at Summer Solstice.

Summary

There is no need to panic over Arctic ice this year, or any year.  It fluctuates according to its own ocean-ice-atmospheric processes and we can only watch and be surprised since we know so little about how it all works.  Judah Cohen at AER thinks the much greater snowfall in October will make for a very cold winter.  We shall see.

cohen-schematic

https://rclutz.wordpress.com/2016/07/06/warm-is-cold-and-down-is-up/

 

 

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