Mid-June Arctic Ice Persisting

Environment Canada photo shows ice on the water near Newfoundland.

Icebreaker CCGS Amundsen diverted from science mission, continues search and rescue work

CBC June 12, 2017
Environment and Climate Change Canada said ice conditions improved slightly on Monday in the Strait of Belle Isle but continue to be troubling off the northeast coast of Newfoundland, which is seeing a higher than normal concentration of ice.

“Typically there would be very little or no ice left in either of these areas at this time of year, let alone the thick ice pack we are currently seeing off the northeast coast of Newfoundland,” a spokesperson for the federal department said in an email.

PolarBearScience described how the ice situation was not a matter of climate change but developed this spring caused by winds, cold temperatures and icebergs.

The tour (record of reports) is illuminating because it shows the development of the thick ice over time and shows how strong winds from a May storm combined with an extensive iceberg field contributed to the current situation. . .By 11 June the ice charts show little ice off southern Labrador but thick first year ice but lots of “old ice” in many places around northern Newfoundland. These must be crushed or compressed icebergs incorporated into the thick first year pack ice.

The image above shows the icing pattern on the European side. beyond Canada.  Compared to 2016, Svalbard  and Franz Joseph Land coastlines are much more enclosed.  Along the Russian coast of Kara, the water is opening up sooner. The graph below shows the first 14 days of June.  2017 was holding a lead of  200k km2 above average and 2007, and much greater than 2016.  Yesterday 2017 extent dropped 270k km2 to erase the lead at this time.

The graph below excludes the Pacific seas of Okhotsk and Barents, which are melting early (~70k km2 below average as of yesterday) somewhat obscuring what is happening in central and Atlantic Arctic seas.

On this basis, 2017 is matching both average and 2007, and about 200k km2 more than 2016.

Barents Sea shows how unusual are 2017 sea ice extents inside the Arctic Circle.  The graph below shows Barents this year compared to average and other years.

The black line is average for the last 11 years.  2007 in purple appears as an average year.  2014 had the highest annual extent in Barents Sea, due to higher and later maximums, holding onto ice during the summer, and recovering quickly.  In contrast, 2016 was the lowest annual extent, melting out early and recovering later.  2017 in blue started out way behind, but grew rapidly to reach average, and is still persisting to exceed even 2014.

The table below shows extents on day 165 in the various Northern seas where ice is found.

Region 2017165 Day 165
2017-Ave. 2007165 2017-2007
 (0) Northern_Hemisphere 10928458 11000746 -72289 10959202 -30745
 (1) Beaufort_Sea 935191 975491 -40301 952869 -17678
 (2) Chukchi_Sea 682164 821629 -139465 770182 -88018
 (3) East_Siberian_Sea 999972 1058898 -58926 1040890 -40918
 (4) Laptev_Sea 823309 788892 34417 755629 67680
 (5) Kara_Sea 656401 731264 -74864 770755 -114355
 (6) Barents_Sea 289358 208784 80574 264253 25105
 (7) Greenland_Sea 586915 577208 9707 574726 12189
 (8) Baffin_Bay_Gulf_of_St._Lawrence 826222 728139 98083 778469 47753
 (9) Canadian_Archipelago 810834 796994 13841 781578 29256
 (10) Hudson_Bay 1053785 995845 57940 997061 56724
 (11) Central_Arctic 3232751 3219736 13015 3224700 8051
 (12) Bering_Sea 13160 51203 -38043 15285 -2126
 (13) Baltic_Sea 0 9 -9 0 0
 (14) Sea_of_Okhotsk 17207 45161 -27955 31131 -13924

The difference between 2017 and average is matched by the early losses in Bering and Okhotsk.  Otherwise, there are some early meltings in BCE (Beaufort, Chukchi, East Siberian) and Kara, offset by surpluses everywhere else.

For more on why Barents Sea matters see Barents Icicles


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