Arctic Heart Beat

We are about 50 days away from the annual Arctic ice extent minimum, which typically occurs on or about day 260 (mid September). Some take any year’s slightly lower minimum as proof that Arctic ice is dying, but the image below shows day 260 over the last 10 years. The Arctic heart is beating clear and strong.

Click on image to enlarge.

Over this decade, the Arctic ice minimum has not declined, but looks like fluctuations around a plateau since 2007. By mid-September, all the peripheral seas have turned to water, and the residual ice shows up in a few places. The table below indicates where we can expect to find ice this next September.

Arctic Regions 2007 2010 2012 2014 2015 2016 Average
Central Arctic Sea 2.67 3.16 2.64 2.98 2.93 2.92 2.91
BCE 0.50 1.08 0.31 1.38 0.89 0.52 0.87
LKB 0.29 0.24 0.02 0.19 0.05 0.28 0.17
Greenland & CAA 0.56 0.41 0.41 0.55 0.46 0.45 0.46
B&H Bays 0.03 0.03 0.02 0.02 0.10 0.03 0.03
NH Total 4.05 4.91 3.40 5.13 4.44 4.20 4.45

BCE (Beaufort, Chukchi and East Siberian) on the Asian side are quite variable as the largest source of ice other than the Central Arctic itself.   Greenland Sea and CAA (Canadian Arctic Archipelago) together hold almost 0.5M km2 of ice at minimum, fairly consistently.   LKB are the European seas of Laptev, Kara and Barents, a smaller source of ice, but a difference maker some years, as Laptev was in 2016.  Baffin and Hudson Bays are almost inconsequential.

For context, note that the average maximum has been 15M, so on average the extent shrinks to 30% of the March high before growing back the following winter.



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