Arctic Ice Moment of Truth

For ice extent in the Arctic, the bar is set at 15M km2. The average in the last 13 years occurs on day 62 at 15.04M before descending. Six of the last 13 years were able to clear 15M, but recently only 2014 and 2016 ice extents cleared the bar at 15M km2; the others came up short.

During February MASIE and SII both show ice extent hovering around the 13 year average, matching it exactly on day 52 at 14.85M km2. Other recent years were lower until 2019 caught up, before dropping off in the final week of the month.  We shall see what this year does with only 10 to 14 days left before the March maximum is recorded.

Region 2020052 Day 052 Average 2020-Ave. 2018052 2020-2018
 (0) Northern_Hemisphere 14875470 14857903 17567 14312247 563223
 (1) Beaufort_Sea 1070655 1070222 433 1070445 210
 (2) Chukchi_Sea 965972 964814 1158 955104 10868
 (3) East_Siberian_Sea 1087137 1087039 98 1087120 18
 (4) Laptev_Sea 897845 897824 21 897845 0
 (5) Kara_Sea 906378 917433 -11055 917969 -11591
 (6) Barents_Sea 648148 613817 34332 552077 96071
 (7) Greenland_Sea 538698 613963 -75264 428606 110092
 (8) Baffin_Bay_Gulf_of_St._Lawrence 1502218 1495888 6330 1757430 -255211
 (9) Canadian_Archipelago 854282 853074 1209 853109 1174
 (10) Hudson_Bay 1259931 1260881 -950 1260838 -907
 (11) Central_Arctic 3246709 3213870 32839 3150241 96468
 (12) Bering_Sea 731776 685013 46763 194708 537067
 (13) Baltic_Sea 25524 104858 -79334 94201 -68677
 (14) Sea_of_Okhotsk 1117881 1022253 95628 1060733 57148

As reported previously, Pacific sea ice is a big part of the story this year.  Out of the last 13 years, on day 52 only two years had Okhotsk ice extent higher than 2020, and only four years had higher Bering ice. Those surpluses offset a small deficit in Greenland Sea ice.

Typically, Arctic ice extent loses 67 to 70% of the March maximum by mid September, before recovering the ice in building toward the next March.

What will the ice do this year?  Where will 2020 rank in the annual Arctic Ice High Jump competition?

Drift ice in Okhotsk Sea at sunrise.

 

Jan. 30 Ordinary Arctic Ice

A previous post noted the Pacific ice see saw had returned, with Bering Sea slow to recover.  The image above shows that now both Pacific seas are recovering ice strongly in the second half of January 2020. As supported by the table later, the pace of refreezing was slow to begin but 2020 extents are now quite ordinary and tracking the 13 year average (2007 to 2019 inclusive). Okhotsk Sea on the left has steadily grown 250k km2 ice extent to be currently at 68% of last March maximum.  Bering on the right added 170k km2 and now exceeds last March max by 3%.

On the Atlantic side there has also been some ice growth on the margins.  Notably Barents Sea on the right has added 160k km2 to exceed its average by 40%, and is now 95% of last March max.  Also visible on the upper left is ice forming in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Baffin Bay ice slowly extending south. The graph below shows the ice extent growing during January compared to some other years and the 13 year average (2007 to 2019 inclusive).

Note that the  NH ice extent 13 year average increases about 1.2M km2 during January, up to 14.4M km2. MASIE 2020 stated with a slower icing rate, dropping 300k km2 lower than average before catching up to reaching the average on January 19 and tracking closely since.  Other years were lower at this point, while MASIE and SII 2020 are showing nearly the same extents.

The table shows where the ice is distributed compared to average.  Deficits in Greenland Sea and Baffin Bay are offset by a 230k km2 surplus of Barents Sea ice.  At this point the surplus in Okhotsk exceeds the Bering deficit. 

Region 2020030 Day 030 Average 2020-Ave. 2018030 2020-2018
 (0) Northern_Hemisphere 14333538 14344185  -10647  13819038 514500 
 (1) Beaufort_Sea 1070655 1070223  432  1070445 210 
 (2) Chukchi_Sea 965972 965999  -27  965971
 (3) East_Siberian_Sea 1087137 1087133  1087120 18 
 (4) Laptev_Sea 897845 897842  897845
 (5) Kara_Sea 934901 914385  20515  880656 54245 
 (6) Barents_Sea 783310 553930  229380  471973 311337 
 (7) Greenland_Sea 482444 588685  -106241  506539 -24094 
 (8) Baffin_Bay_Gulf_of_St._Lawrence 1260581 1347235  -86653  1384973 -124392 
 (9) Canadian_Archipelago 854282 853059  1223  853109 1174 
 (10) Hudson_Bay 1260192 1260815  -623  1260838 -646 
 (11) Central_Arctic 3212864 3207580  5284  3176620 36244 
 (12) Bering_Sea 584617 645329  -60712  402199 182419 
 (13) Baltic_Sea 12939 80631  -67693  37943 -25004 
 (14) Sea_of_Okhotsk 894008 807371  86637  763761 130247 

Footnote:  Interesting comments on January 13 by Dr. Judah Cohen at his blog regarding the Arctic fluctuations. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Arctic sea ice extent

The positive AO is conducive to sea ice growth and Arctic sea ice growth rate continues to grow slowly and remains well below normal but higher than recent winters; the weather pattern remains favorable for further sea ice growth. Negative sea ice anomalies exist in three regions: the Bering Sea, around Greenland-Canadian Archipelagos and Barents-Kara Seas. The anomalies in the North Pacific sector have shrunk (Figure 16), and based on model forecasts negative sea ice anomalies in the Bering Sea can shrink further in the next two weeks. Below normal sea ice in and around Greenland and the Canadian Archipelagos may favor a negative winter NAO, though there are no signs of such a scenario. Based on recent research low sea ice anomalies in the Chukchi and Bering seas favors cold temperatures in central and eastern North America while low sea ice in the Barents-Kara seas favor cold temperatures in Central and East Asia, however this topic remains controversial. Recent research has shown that regional anomalies that are most highly correlated with the strength of the stratospheric PV are across the Barents-Kara seas region where low Arctic sea ice favors a weaker winter PV.

Northern Hemisphere Snow Cover

Despite a strongly postive AO snow cover has advanced across Eurasia and is now near decadal means. And if the snowfall forecasts for Europe ever verify it could advance further. Above normal snow cover extent in October, favors a strengthened Siberian high, cold temperatures across northern Eurasia and a weakened polar vortex/negative AO this upcoming winter followed by cold temperatures across the continents of the NH.

Illustration by Eleanor Lutz shows Earth’s seasonal climate changes. If played in full screen, the four corners present views from top, bottom and sides. It is a visual representation of scientific datasets measuring Arctic ice extents and snow cover.

2020 Pacific Ice Rebounds

A previous post reprinted below pointed out how Pacific ice recovers in fits and starts, often see sawing between Bering and Okhotsk Seas.  Now both of them are growing faster than the 13 year average (2007 to 2019 inclusive).  The image above shows how much colder is Alaska this year versus 2019, probably related to Bering icing over.  In the last 9 days, Bering added 100k km2, now up to 85% of last March max.  Okhotsk added 150k km2 up to 67% of last March max.

The graph shows how January 2020 compared to 13 year average and some other years of interest.

This year’s recovery is matching and slightly exceeding average, and ahead of other recent years.  MASIE shows extents slightly higher than SII.

By January there are not many places where Arctic ice extent can grow.  All the Eurasian shelf seas are full, as is the case on the CanAm side: Beaufort, CAA, Hudson Bay covered completely.  Barents  and Greenland Seas have some room to grow, as does Baffin Bay.  But mainly the variability is on the Pacific side, where the usual Bering/Okhotsk see saw is reappearing.

As we have seen in past winters, ice in the Pacific Arctic tends to grow in fits and spurts, often alternating between Bering and Okhotsk Seas.  The above image of the first two weeks of 2020 shows Okhotsk on the left growing ice steadily while Bering waffled back and forth ending with almost the same extent.  Combined the two seas ice extents are slightly below the 13 year average at this time, due to Bering’s slow recovery.

The January graph shows MASIE and SII reporting the same pace of ice recovery and matching 2019.  This is somewhat below the 13 year average (2007 to 2019 inclusive) and higher than 2017 and 2018. The table below shows the distribution of ice extent among the Arctic regions on January 14.

Region 2020014 Day 014 Average 2020-Ave. 2018014 2020-2018
 (0) Northern_Hemisphere 13541376 13776703 -235327 13340428 200948
 (1) Beaufort_Sea 1070655 1070223 432 1070445 210
 (2) Chukchi_Sea 965972 965812 160 965971 1
 (3) East_Siberian_Sea 1087137 1087133 4 1087120 18
 (4) Laptev_Sea 897845 897842 3 897845 0
 (5) Kara_Sea 932936 909656 23280 925247 7689
 (6) Barents_Sea 619526 508236 111290 393026 226500
 (7) Greenland_Sea 483377 610574 -127197 521896 -38519
 (8) Baffin_Bay_Gulf_of_St._Lawrence 1039079 1172487 -133408 1173039 -133960
 (9) Canadian_Archipelago 854282 853058 1225 853109 1174
 (10) Hudson_Bay 1260192 1251600 8592 1260838 -646
 (11) Central_Arctic 3233354 3210543 22811 3194383 38971
 (12) Bering_Sea 414963 521989 -107026 241830 173133
 (13) Baltic_Sea 8863 43903 -35040 24486 -15623
 (14) Sea_of_Okhotsk 651004 626433 24571 696684 -45681

2019 NH ice is 235k km2 below the 13-year average, or 1.7%, and 200k km2 more than 2018 on that date.  The deficits are in Bering, Greenland Sea and Baffin Bay, partly offset by surpluses in Barents, Kara and Okhotsk.

cg524a47d218458

The next month or so will show how the Pacific ice shapes up.

seesaw

 

 

 

Jan. 19 Arctic Ice Returns to Mean

A previous post noted the Pacific ice see saw had returned, with Bering Sea slow to recover.  The image above shows recovery of Arctic sea ice extent over the month of January 2020. As supported by the table later, the pace of refreezing was slow to begin but has now allowed 2020 to match the 13 year average (2007 to 2019 inclusive). Okohotsk Sea on the left has grown ice extent steadily to be currently at 66% of last March maximum.  Bering on the right waffled back and forth but gained strongly the last few days.

The graph below shows the ice extent growing during January compared to some other years and the 13 year average (2007 to 2019 inclusive).

Note that the  NH ice extent 13 year average increases about 1.2M km2 during January, up to 14.4M km2. MASIE 2020 stated with a slower icing rate, dropping 300k km2 lower than average before catching up to reaching the average on January 19.  Both 2018 and 2017 were lower at this point, while MASIE and SII are tracking closely together.

The table shows where the ice is distributed compared to average.  Deficits in Greenland Sea and Baffin Bay are offset by surpluses in Kara and Barents Seas.  At this point the surplus in Okhotsk exceeds the Bering deficit. Going forward, most of the additional ice extent will in the Pacific Seas.

Region 2020019 Day 019 Average 2020-Ave. 2018019 2020-2018
 (0) Northern_Hemisphere 13933540 13939872  -6332  13431421 502118 
 (1) Beaufort_Sea 1070655 1070223  432  1070445 210 
 (2) Chukchi_Sea 965972 965999  -27  965971
 (3) East_Siberian_Sea 1087137 1087133  1087120 18 
 (4) Laptev_Sea 897845 897842  897845
 (5) Kara_Sea 933810 911944  21867  902003 31807 
 (6) Barents_Sea 646750 502965  143784  286684 360065 
 (7) Greenland_Sea 525324 600387  -75063  453112 72212 
 (8) Baffin_Bay_Gulf_of_St._Lawrence 1155618 1245934  -90317  1355009 -199391 
 (9) Canadian_Archipelago 854282 853058  1225  853109 1174 
 (10) Hudson_Bay 1260192 1257480  2712  1260838 -646 
 (11) Central_Arctic 3239662 3203861  35801  3161866 77796 
 (12) Bering_Sea 443027 570321  -127294  309601 133425 
 (13) Baltic_Sea 9625 52416  -42791  24115 -14491 
 (14) Sea_of_Okhotsk 817160 669235  147925  782693 34467 

Footnote:  Interesting comments on January 13 by Dr. Judah Cohen at his blog regarding the Arctic fluctuations. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Arctic sea ice extent

The positive AO is conducive to sea ice growth and Arctic sea ice growth rate continues to grow slowly and remains well below normal but higher than recent winters; the weather pattern remains favorable for further sea ice growth. Negative sea ice anomalies exist in three regions: the Bering Sea, around Greenland-Canadian Archipelagos and Barents-Kara Seas. The anomalies in the North Pacific sector have shrunk (Figure 16), and based on model forecasts negative sea ice anomalies in the Bering Sea can shrink further in the next two weeks. Below normal sea ice in and around Greenland and the Canadian Archipelagos may favor a negative winter NAO, though there are no signs of such a scenario. Based on recent research low sea ice anomalies in the Chukchi and Bering seas favors cold temperatures in central and eastern North America while low sea ice in the Barents-Kara seas favor cold temperatures in Central and East Asia, however this topic remains controversial. Recent research has shown that regional anomalies that are most highly correlated with the strength of the stratospheric PV are across the Barents-Kara seas region where low Arctic sea ice favors a weaker winter PV.

Northern Hemisphere Snow Cover

Despite a strongly postive AO snow cover has advanced across Eurasia and is now near decadal means. And if the snowfall forecasts for Europe ever verify it could advance further. Above normal snow cover extent in October, favors a strengthened Siberian high, cold temperatures across northern Eurasia and a weakened polar vortex/negative AO this upcoming winter followed by cold temperatures across the continents of the NH.

Illustration by Eleanor Lutz shows Earth’s seasonal climate changes. If played in full screen, the four corners present views from top, bottom and sides. It is a visual representation of scientific datasets measuring Arctic ice extents and snow cover.

2020 Pacific Ice See Saw Returns

By January there are not many places where Arctic ice extent can grow.  All the Eurasian shelf seas are full, as is the case on the CanAm side: Beaufort, CAA, Hudson Bay covered completely.  Barents  and Greenland Seas have some room to grow, as does Baffin Bay.  But mainly the variability is on the Pacific side, where the usual Bering/Okhotsk see saw is reappearing.

As we have seen in past winters, ice in the Pacific Arctic tends to grow in fits and spurts, often alternating between Bering and Okhotsk Seas.  The above image of the first two weeks of 2020 shows Okhotsk on the left growing ice steadily while Bering waffled back and forth ending with almost the same extent.  Combined the two seas ice extents are slightly below the 13 year average at this time, due to Bering’s slow recovery.

The January graph shows MASIE and SII reporting the same pace of ice recovery and matching 2019.  This is somewhat below the 13 year average (2007 to 2019 inclusive) and higher than 2017 and 2018. The table below shows the distribution of ice extent among the Arctic regions on January 14.

Region 2020014 Day 014 Average 2020-Ave. 2018014 2020-2018
 (0) Northern_Hemisphere 13541376 13776703 -235327 13340428 200948
 (1) Beaufort_Sea 1070655 1070223 432 1070445 210
 (2) Chukchi_Sea 965972 965812 160 965971 1
 (3) East_Siberian_Sea 1087137 1087133 4 1087120 18
 (4) Laptev_Sea 897845 897842 3 897845 0
 (5) Kara_Sea 932936 909656 23280 925247 7689
 (6) Barents_Sea 619526 508236 111290 393026 226500
 (7) Greenland_Sea 483377 610574 -127197 521896 -38519
 (8) Baffin_Bay_Gulf_of_St._Lawrence 1039079 1172487 -133408 1173039 -133960
 (9) Canadian_Archipelago 854282 853058 1225 853109 1174
 (10) Hudson_Bay 1260192 1251600 8592 1260838 -646
 (11) Central_Arctic 3233354 3210543 22811 3194383 38971
 (12) Bering_Sea 414963 521989 -107026 241830 173133
 (13) Baltic_Sea 8863 43903 -35040 24486 -15623
 (14) Sea_of_Okhotsk 651004 626433 24571 696684 -45681

2019 NH ice is 235k km2 below the 13-year average, or 1.7%, and 200k km2 more than 2018 on that date.  The deficits are in Bering, Greenland Sea and Baffin Bay, partly offset by surpluses in Barents, Kara and Okhotsk.

cg524a47d218458

The next month or so will show how the Pacific ice shapes up.

seesaw

 

 

 

Dec. 31 Arctic Ice Hits Average

The image above shows recovery of Arctic sea ice extent over the month of December 2019. As supported by the table later, the pace of refreezing allowed 2019 to match and exceed for a few days the 12 year average (2007 to 2018 inclusive).

The month began with seas on the Eurasian side (left) already ice-covered, so no additional extent came from there.  OTOH Hudson Bay (right) filled in completely, gaining from 445k km2 to 1255k km2, virtually to its max.  Most of the action now is on the Pacific side (bottom) where Chukchi iced over, and Bering (center) and Okhotsk (left) have started to freeze in ernest.

The graph below shows the ice extent growing during December compared to some other years and the 12 year average (2007 to 2018 inclusive).

Note that the  NH ice extent 12 year average increases almost 2M km2 during December, up to 13.1M km2. MASIE 2019 shows a faster icing rate, starting 600k km2 lower than average before reaching and surpassing the average, ending December in a virtual tie with average.  Both 2018 and 2017 were lower at this point, while MASIE and SII are tracking closely together.

Region 2019365 Day 365 Average 2019-Ave. 2017365 2019-2007
 (0) Northern_Hemisphere 12980000 13070435  -90436  12628187 351813 
 (1) Beaufort_Sea 1070655 1070266  389  1070445 210 
 (2) Chukchi_Sea 965972 964161  1811  943883 22090 
 (3) East_Siberian_Sea 1087137 1087134  1087120 18 
 (4) Laptev_Sea 897845 897842  897845
 (5) Kara_Sea 929682 880747  48935  892689 36993 
 (6) Barents_Sea 479642 424886  54756  331819 147823 
 (7) Greenland_Sea 590098 568883  21215  555757 34341 
 (8) Baffin_Bay_Gulf_of_St._Lawrence 851131 1016132  -165001  978074 -126943 
 (9) Canadian_Archipelago 854282 853098  1185  853109 1174 
 (10) Hudson_Bay 1254576 1231781  22795  1260838 -6262 
 (11) Central_Arctic 3228672 3206086  22586  3191526 37147 
 (12) Bering_Sea 362317 439846  -77529  194350 167967 
 (13) Baltic_Sea 8738 32177  -23439  13345 -4607 
 (14) Sea_of_Okhotsk 390113 376320  13793  336595 53518 

The table shows where the ice is distributed compared to average.  Bering Sea and Baffin Bay have the only deficits to average, while other regions are at or above average;  Kara and Barents Seas are in surplus.

Footnote:  Interesting comments recently by Dr. Judah Cohen at his blog regarding the Arctic fluctuations. Excerpts with my bolds.

I have said many times the first thing that you learn as a seasonal forecaster is humility and these are one of those times. What is humbling me at the moment is that I have expected a weakening of the stratospheric polar vortex (PV) based on fall Arctic predictors – extensive Siberian snow cover, more limited Arctic sea ice extent and a relatively warm Arctic. Following the PV weakening or disruption, severe winter weather would be more frequent at least regionally across the mid-latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere (NH). But to be honest it is hard to see from today’s viewpoint how this verifies. And as I have shared on Twitter the new operational GFS, the FV3, has been especially bullish on a strong PV.

The biggest challenge that I see right now is the center of low mid-tropospheric heights currently just north of Alaska and is expected to expand in breadth over the next two weeks enough so to fill the entire Arctic basin. This a fairly class pattern of low heights in the Arctic and high heights in the mid-latitudes resulting in a cold Arctic/warm continents pattern, all consistent with a positive AO. It seems a bit ironic (at least to me) that with the record low sea ice in the Chukchi-Bering seas this fall, the incredibly warm year Alaska just experienced both in part due to persistent ridging in the region, this same region is predicted to now experience an extended period of low heights and below normal temperatures. As an aside, this is something that I had a hard time anticipating even just a few weeks ago. 

So, for now I remain steadfast in the winter forecast that based on high fall snow cover/low Arctic sea ice that they will in tandem perturb the PV. Given the westerly quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) I expect a scenario somewhere between winter 2016/17 and winter 2017/18. Both of those winters were westerly QBO winters and the most significant disruption of the stratospheric PV took place in February.

Illustration by Eleanor Lutz shows Earth’s seasonal climate changes. If played in full screen, the four corners present views from top, bottom and sides. It is a visual representation of scientific datasets measuring Arctic ice extents.

Dec. 22 Arctic Ice Nearly Normal

The image above, supported by the table later on shows that in December ice has recovered in the central Arctic with open water found only on the margins, as is typical this time of year. The animation shows progression of ice extent from Dec. 1 to Dec. 22, 2019.

Most dramatic is Hudson Bay on the left filling in over these 3 weeks, from 445k km2 up to 1214k km2, 96% of maximum. At the top, Chukchi Sea also ices over, from 589k km2 to 933k km2, 97% of max. Above Chukchi is Bering Sea just starting with fast ice, and Okhotsk upper right growing ice as usual. The two places lagging behind in ice recovery are Bering Sea and Baffin Bay.

The graph below shows the ice extent growing during December compared to some other years and the 12 year average (2007 to 2018 inclusive).

Note that the  NH ice extent 12 year average increases almost 2M km2 during December, up to 13.1M km2. MASIE 2019 shows a faster icing rate, starting 600k km2 lower than average and now down 200k km2, or 1.5%. MASIE and SII are tracking quite closely this month.  By month end all years appear to be converging on the 12-year average.

Region 2019356 Day 356 Average 2019-Ave. 2010356 2019-2010
 (0) Northern_Hemisphere 12428357 12623541  -195184  12257118 171239 
 (1) Beaufort_Sea 1070223 1070266  -42  1070445 -222 
 (2) Chukchi_Sea 933276 953650  -20374  964317 -31041 
 (3) East_Siberian_Sea 1087137 1087133  1087137
 (4) Laptev_Sea 897845 897842  897845
 (5) Kara_Sea 929742 864955  64786  934937 -5195 
 (6) Barents_Sea 447093 358194  88899  607130 -160037 
 (7) Greenland_Sea 533666 562497  -28831  579647 -45980 
 (8) Baffin_Bay_Gulf_of_St._Lawrence 751185 924722  -173536  630041 121144 
 (9) Canadian_Archipelago 854282 853082  1201  853214 1068 
 (10) Hudson_Bay 1213848 1199010  14839  767479 446370 
 (11) Central_Arctic 3225391 3199892  25499  3244808 -19417 
 (12) Bering_Sea 147493 312873  -165379  219969 -72475 
 (13) Baltic_Sea 11462 20025  -8564  100363 -88902 
 (14) Sea_of_Okhotsk 324167 306066  18101  283712 40455 

The table shows where the ice is distributed compared to average.  Bering Sea and Baffin Bay have the only large deficits to average, while Kara and Barents Seas are in surplus.

Footnote:  Interesting comments today by Dr. Judah Cohen at his blog regarding the Arctic fluctuations. Excerpts with my bolds.

I have said many times the first thing that you learn as a seasonal forecaster is humility and these are one of those times. What is humbling me at the moment is that I have expected a weakening of the stratospheric polar vortex (PV) based on fall Arctic predictors – extensive Siberian snow cover, more limited Arctic sea ice extent and a relatively warm Arctic. Following the PV weakening or disruption, severe winter weather would be more frequent at least regionally across the mid-latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere (NH). But to be honest it is hard to see from today’s viewpoint how this verifies. And as I have shared on Twitter the new operational GFS, the FV3, has been especially bullish on a strong PV.

The biggest challenge that I see right now is the center of low mid-tropospheric heights currently just north of Alaska and is expected to expand in breadth over the next two weeks enough so to fill the entire Arctic basin. This a fairly class pattern of low heights in the Arctic and high heights in the mid-latitudes resulting in a cold Arctic/warm continents pattern, all consistent with a positive AO. It seems a bit ironic (at least to me) that with the record low sea ice in the Chukchi-Bering seas this fall, the incredibly warm year Alaska just experienced both in part due to persistent ridging in the region, this same region is predicted to now experience an extended period of low heights and below normal temperatures. As an aside, this is something that I had a hard time anticipating even just a few weeks ago. 

So, for now I remain steadfast in the winter forecast that based on high fall snow cover/low Arctic sea ice that they will in tandem perturb the PV. Given the westerly quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) I expect a scenario somewhere between winter 2016/17 and winter 2017/18. Both of those winters were westerly QBO winters and the most significant disruption of the stratospheric PV took place in February.

Illustration by Eleanor Lutz shows Earth’s seasonal climate changes. If played in full screen, the four corners present views from top, bottom and sides.

December Arctic Ice Returning to Mean

The image is an animation of MASIE ice charts over the last 16 days from Nov. 21 to yesterday, Dec. 7, 2019.   At the top is Kara Sea icing, along with Barents, both higher than the 12 year average at this time.  On the left Laptev and East Siberian have filled with ice.  Chukchi on the bottom left was mostly water, but in the last two weeks added 250k km2 up to 742k km2, now 77% of March maximum.  Bottom center shows Beaufort Sea and CAA filled with ice. On the right, Hudson Bay is making great progress freezing from its west coast inward, tripling in two weeks up to 816k km2, 65% of March max.

MASIE daily results for mid November to yesterday show 2019 ice recovering steadily, reducing the deficit to average.
Because several seas are already maxed out, Arctic ice extent recovery slows down in this period, going on average (2007 through 2018 inclusive) from 10M km2 to 12.3M km2.  2019 was as much as 600k km2 below average a week ago, but has now halved that deficit, with the accelerating freezing of shallow Hudson Bay.  Both MASIE and SII 2019 tracks are matching 2018, converging on the 12 year average, and ahead of both 2016 and 2007.

The table for day 341 shows distribution of ice across the regions making up the Arctic ocean.

Region 2019341 Day 341 Average 2019-Ave. 2007341 2019-2007
 (0) Northern_Hemisphere 11291517 11589573 -298056 10895496 396021
 (1) Beaufort_Sea 1070655 1069314 1341 1058293 12362
 (2) Chukchi_Sea 742243 858135 -115892 631443 110801
 (3) East_Siberian_Sea 1084944 1082660 2284 1042607 42337
 (4) Laptev_Sea 897845 897834 10 897845 0
 (5) Kara_Sea 930183 821052 109132 811361 118822
 (6) Barents_Sea 356907 294913 61995 216824 140083
 (7) Greenland_Sea 504346 560612 -56266 488047 16300
 (8) Baffin_Bay_Gulf_of_St._Lawrence 606755 785677 -178922 744348 -137593
 (9) Canadian_Archipelago 854282 853080 1202 852556 1726
 (10) Hudson_Bay 816467 850137 -33669 894568 -78101
 (11) Central_Arctic 3211488 3197839 13649 3176298 35190
 (12) Bering_Sea 123482 190201 -66719 39832 83650
 (13) Baltic_Sea 5497 6999 -1502 2898 2599
 (14) Sea_of_Okhotsk 84415 115149 -30734 37290 47125

Presently 2019 ice extent according to MASIE is 298k km2 (2.6%) below the 12 year average and 400k km2 more than 2007. Most of the deficit to average is in Chukchi Sea, along with Baffin and Hudson Bays a little late refreezing this year.  The Pacific Bering and Okhotsk seas have barely started with ice. Other places are close to normal, with Kara and Barents Seas showing surpluses.

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.

Arctic Ice Building up in November

 The image is an animation of MASIE ice charts over the last three weeks from Oct.1 to yesterday, Nov.20, 2019.   At the top is Kara Sea icing, along with Barents, both higher than the 12 year average at this time.  On the left Laptev and East Siberian have filled with ice.  Chukchi on the bottom was mostly water, but in 3 weeks tripled from 170k km2 up to 518k km2, now 54% of March maximum.  Bottom right shows Beaufort Sea and CAA filled with ice. On the right, Hudson Bay has begun freezing down its west coast, while Baffin Bay is freezing southward.  Both of these bays are slower than average and a main reason 2019 NH ice extent remains below average presently.

MASIE daily results for November show 2019 ice recovering steadily, reducing the deficit to average.
Note that Arctic ice recovers strongly in November going on average (2007 through 2018 inclusive) from 8.6M km2 to 11.1M km2.  2019 ended October as much as 654k km2 below average, but now shows a deficit of 296k km2.  All of the tracks appear to be converging except for 2016, which had a much slower pace of refreezing.

The table for day 324 shows distribution of ice across the regions making up the Arctic ocean.

Region 2019324 Day 324 Average 2019-Ave. 2007324 2019-2007
 (0) Northern_Hemisphere 9888503 10184933 -296430 10069799 -181296
 (1) Beaufort_Sea 1063360 1066882 -3523 1046467 16892
 (2) Chukchi_Sea 517822 702499 -184678 622683 -104861
 (3) East_Siberian_Sea 1083955 1077768 6187 1059995 23959
 (4) Laptev_Sea 897845 897094 751 897845 0
 (5) Kara_Sea 807562 674120 133443 760883 46680
 (6) Barents_Sea 255306 178393 76913 130915 124391
 (7) Greenland_Sea 502301 490127 12174 546284 -43983
 (8) Baffin_Bay_Gulf_of_St._Lawrence 362245 600845 -238600 532589 -170343
 (9) Canadian_Archipelago 854282 851989 2294 852142 2141
 (10) Hudson_Bay 256575 374668 -118093 380911 -124336
 (11) Central_Arctic 3206293 3171926 34367 3184762 21531

Presently 2019 ice extent according to MASIE is 296k km2 (3%) below the 12 year average and 181k km2 less than 2007. Most of the deficit to average is in Chukchi Sea, along with Baffin and Hudson Bays refreezing slowly this year.  Other places are close to normal, with Kara and Barents Seas showing surpluses.

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.

Rapid NH Snow Cover Oct. 2019

The image is an animation of IMS Snow and Ice charts for NH, starting October 1 to November 12, 2019 in weekly increments.  Note how the white area was sparce to begin and then grew from a weekly area of 9M km2 to 23.5M km2 through the month of October. As shown in the graph from Rutgers Global Snow Lab (GSL), the October 2019 monthly average of 22.3 M km2 is the fith highest in their record.

October 2019 was 4.7M km2 above the mean October area of 17.5 M km2. That ranks fifth out of 52 years; along with 2014 and 2016 making three of the highest snow cover years out of  the last six! (OMG.)  As Dr. Judah Cohen has observed, Siberian October coverage is a significant factor in forecasting coming winter conditions.
Dr. Cohen explains the mechanism in this diagram.

See Also Snowing and Freezing in the Arctic