Arctic Ice Usual June Swoon

 

The image above shows melting of Arctic sea ice extent over the month of June 2020.  As usual the process of declining ice extent follows a LIFO pattern:  Last In First Out.  That is, the marginal seas are the last to freeze and the first to melt.  Thus at the top center and right of the image, the Pacific basins of Bering and Okohtsk seas lost what little ice they had.  Meanwhile at extreme left, Hudson Bay ice retreats 300k km2 from north to south.  Note center left Baffin Bay loses 320k km2 of ice during the month.  The most dramatic melting is in the Russian shelf seas at the center right.  Laptev and Kara Seas combined to lose 600k km2 of ice extent. The central mass of Arctic ice is intact with some fluctuations back and forth, and as well Greenland Sea and CAA (Canadian Arctic Archipelago) were slow to melt in June

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

Note that the  MASIE NH ice extent 13 year average loses about 2M km2 during June, down to 9.6M km2. MASIE 2019 started nearly 500k km2 lower and lost ice at a similar rate, ending 476 km2 below average.  The most interesting thing was the wide divergence between SII and MASIE reports during June, SII starting the month about 500k km2 higher before narrowing at the end to exceed MASIE by 133k km2.  I inquired whether NIC had experienced any measurement issues, but their response indicated nothing remarkable.  It is unusual for MASIE to be the lower estimate of the two.

The table shows where the ice is distributed compared to average.  Bering and Okhotsk are open water at this point and will be dropped from future monthly updates. The deficit of 476k km2 represents 5% of the total, or an ice extent melting 5 days ahead of average.

Region 2020183 Day 183 Average 2020-Ave. 2007183 2020-2007
 (0) Northern_Hemisphere 9128615 9604642  -476028  9269301 -140686 
 (1) Beaufort_Sea 982475 882878  99597  891858 90617 
 (2) Chukchi_Sea 730000 703162  26838  637536 92464 
 (3) East_Siberian_Sea 885090 1014587  -129497  855267 29823 
 (4) Laptev_Sea 469839 704231  -234392  646683 -176844 
 (5) Kara_Sea 274007 535421  -261414  596916 -322909 
 (6) Barents_Sea 111016 106522  4494  97267 13749 
 (7) Greenland_Sea 474331 498794  -24463  548566 -74236 
 (8) Baffin_Bay_Gulf_of_St._Lawrence 438007 479675  -41668  414283 23724 
 (9) Canadian_Archipelago 780765 774360  6405  759177 21589 
 (10) Hudson_Bay 739422 686381  53041  613940 125482 
 (11) Central_Arctic 3235174 3202495  32679  3202330 32844 
 (12) Bering_Sea 315 3673  -3357  981 -665 
 (13) Baltic_Sea 0 -4  0
 (14) Sea_of_Okhotsk 7051 11237  -4185  2983 4068 

Note that all of the deficit to average is accounted for by the Russian shelf seas of East Siberian, Laptev and Kara. Beaufort and Hudson Bay are slightly surplus.

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.

April Arctic Ice Melting as Usual

The image above shows springtime melting of Arctic sea ice extent over the month of April 2020.  As usual the process of declining ice extent follows a LIFO pattern:  Last In First Out.  That is, the marginal seas are the last to freeze and the first to melt.  Thus at the top of the image, the Pacific basins of Bering and Okohtsk seas show a steady decline in ice.  Meanwhile at bottom left, Baffin Bay ice retreats from south to north.  Note center left Hudson Bay loses very little ice during the month.  The central mass of Arctic ice is  intact with some fluctuations back and forth bottom right, as patches of water appear in Barents and Kara Seas.

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

Note that the  MASIE NH ice extent 13 year average loses about 1.2M km2 during April, down to 13.5M km2. MASIE 2019 started much lower and lost ice at a similar rate, ending nearly 800k km2 below average.  This year started in the middle of the other tracks, the most interesting thing being the wide divergence between SII and MASIE reports for April, with a sawtooth pattern alternating loses and gains.  The two indices were close in the beginning, but the gap grew to 600k km2 before narrowing at the end.  I inquired whether NIC had experienced any measurement issues, but their response indicated nothing remarkable.  It is notable that MASIE is the low estimate of the two.

Region 2020121 Day 121 Average 2020-Ave. 2019121 2020-2019
 (0) Northern_Hemisphere 13091644 13517638  -425994  12730893 360751 
 (1) Beaufort_Sea 1070307 1067944  2363  1070463 -156 
 (2) Chukchi_Sea 961124 952949  8175  909505 51619 
 (3) East_Siberian_Sea 1081646 1085858  -4212  1082230 -585 
 (4) Laptev_Sea 851288 891300  -40012  897845 -46557 
 (5) Kara_Sea 860722 909170  -48448  917303 -56581 
 (6) Barents_Sea 588361 546921  41440  557814 30547 
 (7) Greenland_Sea 769073 634171  134902  487626 281446 
 (8) Baffin_Bay_Gulf_of_St._Lawrence 1001748 1240703  -238955  1113262 -111514 
 (9) Canadian_Archipelago 849940 848790  1150  853337 -3397 
 (10) Hudson_Bay 1209082 1242060  -32978  1255410 -46328 
 (11) Central_Arctic 3245999 3236485  9514  3245152 846 
 (12) Bering_Sea 337849 466262  -128413  93641 244208 
 (13) Baltic_Sea 5973 20676  -14703  10318 -4345 
 (14) Sea_of_Okhotsk 257268 371173  -113905  235299 21969 

The table shows where the ice is distributed compared to average.  Baffin Bay has the largest deficit to average followed by Bering and Okhotsk. Greenland Sea and Barents Sea are in surplus, offsetting small deficits in Kara, Laptev and Hudson Bay.

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

As I sit here in home, enduring a second day of cloudy, wet, relatively cold and windy weather from a storm passing to our south and had this been winter would have brought a crippling snowstorm. And this storm or pattern isn’t unique. It seems that every few days here in the Northeastern US we get a rainstorm that had it been winter would have produced a snowstorm, though even these late season storms are bringing snow to the higher elevations of the Northeast. I find myself asking (and I realize that I am not unique asking this question) – where was this pattern in winter?

I reflexively look to the PV for answers. The winter was characterized by a stronger than normal stratospheric PV that was hostile to meridional (north to south), large amplitude flow and high latitude blocking that is so favorable for sustained cold air outbreaks and snowstorms. Instead the strong PV supported fast zonal flow of the Jet Stream that was displaced to the north that favored overall mild temperatures and rainfall across the US except for higher elevations and near the Canadian border. Similarly, an even milder and snowless pattern persisted across Europe all winter.

Then once winter was over, high pressure/blocking returned to the North Atlantic sector that excited the vertical transfer of energy from the troposphere to the stratosphere and has weakened the stratospheric PV. This increase in vertical energy transfer has decelerated a hyperactive PV and it does appear that the weakening of the PV will actually overshoot the typical weakening resulting in stronger easterly winds in the polar stratosphere than the climatological average (see Figure i). Easterly winds in the polar stratosphere are the telltale sign of the Final Warming (where the stratospheric PV disappears until the fall).

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.

Meet Bering and Okhotsk Seas

Now that Arctic ice peak has passed, the Pacific basins of Bering and Okhotsk take center stage, providing most of the open water reducing ice extents.  The animation above shows in the last 3 weeks Bering on the right lost half of its ice, down from 820k km2 to 450k km2 yesterday.  Meanwhile Okhotsk on the left declined from 1080k km2 to 650k km2.  Those losses make up entirely the 530k km2 Arctic deficit to average at this time.

Background on Okhotsk Sea

NASA describes Okhotsk as a Sea and Ice Factory. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

The Sea of Okhotsk is what oceanographers call a marginal sea: a region of a larger ocean basin that is partly enclosed by islands and peninsulas hugging a continental coast. With the Kamchatka Peninsula, the Kuril Islands, and Sakhalin Island partly sheltering the sea from the Pacific Ocean, and with prevailing, frigid northwesterly winds blowing out from Siberia, the sea is a winter ice factory and a year-round cloud factory.

The region is the lowest latitude (45 degrees at the southern end) where sea ice regularly forms. Ice cover varies from 50 to 90 percent each winter depending on the weather. Ice often persists for nearly six months, typically from October to March. Aside from the cold winds from the Russian interior, the prodigious flow of fresh water from the Amur River freshens the sea, making the surface less saline and more likely to freeze than other seas and bays.


Map of the Sea of Okhotsk with bottom topography. The 200- and 3000-m isobars are indicated by thin and thick solid lines, respectively. A box denotes the enlarged portion in Figure 5. White shading indicates sea-ice area (ice concentration ⩾30%) in February averaged for 2003–11; blue shading indicates open ocean area. Ice concentration from AMSR-E is used. Color shadings indicate cumulative ice production in coastal polynyas during winter (December–March) averaged from the 2002/03 to 2009/10 seasons (modified from Nihashi and others, 2012, 2017). The amount is indicated by the bar scale. Source: Cambridge Core

Bering Sea Ice is Highly Variable

The animation above shows Bering Sea ice extents at April 2 from 2007 to 2020.  The large fluctuation is evident, much ice in 2012 -13 and almost none in 2018, other years in between.  Given the alarmist bias, it’s no surprise which two years are picked for comparison:

Source: Seattle Times ‘We’ve fallen off a cliff’: Scientists have never seen so little ice in the Bering Sea in spring.

Taking a boat trip from Hokkaido Island to see Okhotsk drift ice is a big tourist attraction, as seen in the short video below.  Al Gore had them worried back then, but not now.

Drift ice in Okhotsk Sea at sunrise.

March Arctic Ice Plentiful

Previous posts showed 2020 Arctic Ice breaking the 15M km2 ceiling mid March before starting the Spring melt as usual later in the month. The graph above shows that the March monthly average has varied little since 2007, typically around the SII average of 14.7 Mkm2 +/-  a few %.  Of course there are regional differences as described below.

The graph above shows ice extent through March comparing 2020 MASIE reports with the 13-year average, other recent years and with SII.  After exceeding the average the first half, extents fell off the last 10 days, principally due to melting in the Pacfic basins of Bering and Okhotsk.

The table below shows the distribution of sea ice across the Arctic regions.

Region 2020091 Day 091 Average 2020-Ave. 2007091 2020-2007
 (0) Northern_Hemisphere 14282630 14713851 -431221 14158467 124163
 (1) Beaufort_Sea 1070655 1070176 479 1069711 944
 (2) Chukchi_Sea 963163 963149 14 966006 -2844
 (3) East_Siberian_Sea 1086324 1086066 258 1074213 12111
 (4) Laptev_Sea 897668 895482 2186 867162 30506
 (5) Kara_Sea 928986 916178 12808 908181 20805
 (6) Barents_Sea 688659 648978 39681 469156 219503
 (7) Greenland_Sea 709503 656533 52970 670061 39442
 (8) Baffin_Bay_Gulf_of_St._Lawrence 1320493 439783 -119290 1232093 88399
 (9) Canadian_Archipelago 854282 852731 1552 849011 5271
 (10) Hudson_Bay 1260152 1254854 5298 1229963 30189
 (11) Central_Arctic 3248013 3235482 12531 3245424 2589
 (12) Bering_Sea 484084 744587 -260503 721969 -237885
 (13) Baltic_Sea 8975 65202 -56227 45656 -36682
 (14) Sea_of_Okhotsk 753705 874501 -120796 797516 -43812

Overall NH extent March 31 was below average by 431k km2, or 3%.  The bulk of the deficit is seen in Bering and Okhotsk seas, along with Baffin Bay.  Everywhere else is slightly surplus, with the exception of the Baltic, which never froze completely this year.

Persisting March Arctic Ice

Previous posts showed 2020 Arctic Ice breaking the 15M km2 ceiling, while wondering whether the ice will have staying power.  “Yes” is the answer, at least through the first two-thirds of March. The animation above shows ice extents over the first 20 days of March 2020 in the Pacific basins.  Bering Sea on the right grew ice until peaking at 819k km2 on day 71, 44% higher than 2019 Bering maximum.  It then declined losing 274k km2 by day 80.  Meanwhile Okhotsk Sea on the left lost 100k km2 by day 72 before gaining back 65k km2.

The animation above shows ice extents on the Atlantic side fluctuating and helping offset Pacific ice losses. On the left Baffin Bay and Gulf of St. Lawrence fluctuate but end the period with nearly the same ice as at the beginning. In the center Greenland Sea ice was steady the first week and then added 116k km2 up to day 80.  On the right Barents Sea lost 130k km2 up to day 73, then gained 140k km2 back by day 80.

By end of February, ice extent this year was well above the 13- year average, then dipped lower before growing again to match the average and surplus to other years including 2007.  This is important since March monthly average is considered the ice extent maximum for the year. Note also that SII is matching and at times exceeds the MASIE estimates.

The chart below shows the distribution of ice across the various regions comprising the Arctic zone.

Region 2020080 Day 080 Average 2020-Ave. 2007080 2020-2007
 (0) Northern_Hemisphere 14901276 14873303 27972 14547397 353879
 (1) Beaufort_Sea 1070655 1070207 448 1069711 944
 (2) Chukchi_Sea 966006 965780 226 966006 0
 (3) East_Siberian_Sea 1087137 1087135 3 1087137 0
 (4) Laptev_Sea 897845 897799 46 897845 0
 (5) Kara_Sea 934902 917684 17218 912117 22785
 (6) Barents_Sea 749134 620285 128849 583698 165436
 (7) Greenland_Sea 688025 628250 59776 606689 81336
 (8) Baffin_Bay_Gulf_of_St._Lawrence 1494573 1537332 -42760 1392468 102105
 (9) Canadian_Archipelago 854282 852953 1330 852767 1516
 (10) Hudson_Bay 1260903 1260407 497 1259717 1186
 (11) Central_Arctic 3248013 3223120 24893 3239953 8060
 (12) Bering_Sea 543951 757159 -213208 836184 -292233
 (13) Baltic_Sea 13401 80508 -67107 83894 -70492
 (14) Sea_of_Okhotsk 1083325 958236 125089 739985 343340

As of yesterday, Day 2020071 matches the NH 13-year average and also most regions.  Bering Sea is the main deficit to average along with Baffin Bay and Baltic Sea. Offsetting surpluses appear in Barents and Okhotsk Seas, as well as Greenland Sea and Central Arctic and Barents Sea. Note Okhotsk sea ice is almost 50% more than the extent in 2007.

 

Arctic Ice Power Mid March

Previous posts showed 2020 Arctic Ice breaking the 15M km2 ceiling, while wondering whether the ice will have staying power.  “Yes” is the answer, at least through the first third of March.

By end of February, ice extent this year was well above the 13- year average, then dipped lower before growing again surplus to average and other recent years.  This is important since March monthly average is considered the ice extent maximum for the year. Note also the SII is matching and currently exceeding the MASIE estimates.

The chart below shows the distribution of ice across the various regions comprising the Arctic zone.

Region 2020071 Day 071 Average 2020-Ave. 2018071 2020-2018
 (0) Northern_Hemisphere 15015552 15016528 -976 14608334 407218
 (1) Beaufort_Sea 1070655 1070115 540 1070445 210
 (2) Chukchi_Sea 966006 965984 22 966006 0
 (3) East_Siberian_Sea 1087137 1087135 3 1087137 0
 (4) Laptev_Sea 897845 897645 200 897845 0
 (5) Kara_Sea 930542 923821 6721 933916 -3374
 (6) Barents_Sea 658816 625730 33086 679863 -21047
 (7) Greenland_Sea 617321 624974 -7654 526061 91259
 (8) Baffin_Bay_Gulf_of_St._Lawrence 1516513 1597523 -81010 1488350 28163
 (9) Canadian_Archipelago 854282 852766 1517 853109 1174
 (10) Hudson_Bay 1260903 1259848 1055 1260838 66
 (11) Central_Arctic 3248013 3215629 32384 3172178 75835
 (12) Bering_Sea 818900 738395 80505 401469 417431
 (13) Baltic_Sea 14681 87191 -72510 130767 -116086
 (14) Sea_of_Okhotsk 1062110 1048073 14037 1120721 -58611

As of yesterday, Day 2020071 matches the NH 13-year average and also most regions.  Two deficits to average are in Baffin Bay and Baltic Sea, offset by surpluses in Bering and Okhotsk, as well as Central Arctic and Barents Sea. Note current Bering Sea ice is twice the extent in 2018.

 

Arctic Ice Exceeds Expectations March 5

Update on Large Arctic Ice Extents as of March 5, 2020

After crashing through the 15M km2 ceiling, both MASIE and SII show the extents holding over that amount.

In addition to surpluses in Bering and Okhotsk Seas in the Pacific, Barents Sea is now growing significant ice on the European side. At 823k km2, Bering is 145% of 2019 maximum, while Barents is 94% of 2019 max.

Background from Previous Posts

As noted in a previous February post, March marks the moment of truth regarding the Arctic maximum extent. Ten days later 2020 met the challenge.

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.

As of yesterday, 2020 cleared 15M km2 as recorded both by MASIE and SII.

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. Then the ice cover shrank before growing strongly the last five days to overtake the 13 year average on day 61 at 15.05M km2.

Region 2020060 Day 060 Average 2020-Ave. 2018060 2020-2018
 (0) Northern_Hemisphere 14999007 14987840 11167 14535979 463028
 (1) Beaufort_Sea 1070655 1070222 433 1070445 210
 (2) Chukchi_Sea 965972 963804 2168 965971 1
 (3) East_Siberian_Sea 1087137 1087039 98 1087120 18
 (4) Laptev_Sea 897845 897824 21 897845 0
 (5) Kara_Sea 919052 928455 -9403 921526 -2474
 (6) Barents_Sea 735450 634497 100953 512601 222848
 (7) Greenland_Sea 596926 621572 -24646 518130 78796
 (8) Baffin_Bay_Gulf_of_St._Lawrence 1464407 1544205 -79798 1783076 -318669
 (9) Canadian_Archipelago 854282 853074 1209 853109 1174
 (10) Hudson_Bay 1260887 1260890 -2 1260838 49
 (11) Central_Arctic 3247904 3211522 36382 3087802 160103
 (12) Bering_Sea 746111 674028 72083 340789 405322
 (13) Baltic_Sea 30173 103770 -73598 134750 -104577
 (14) Sea_of_Okhotsk 1110709 1097753 12956 1079823 30886

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. And on day 61, the last push came from Bering and Okhotsk.

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.

 

Arctic Ice Abounds March 1

As noted in a previous post ten days ago, March marks the moment of truth regarding the Arctic maximum extent. Now ten days later 2020 met the challenge.

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.

As of yesterday, 2020 cleared 15M km2 as recorded both by MASIE and SII.

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. Then the ice cover shrank before growing strongly the last five days to overtake the 13 year average on day 61 at 15.05M km2.

Region 2020060 Day 060 Average 2020-Ave. 2018060 2020-2018
 (0) Northern_Hemisphere 14999007 14987840 11167 14535979 463028
 (1) Beaufort_Sea 1070655 1070222 433 1070445 210
 (2) Chukchi_Sea 965972 963804 2168 965971 1
 (3) East_Siberian_Sea 1087137 1087039 98 1087120 18
 (4) Laptev_Sea 897845 897824 21 897845 0
 (5) Kara_Sea 919052 928455 -9403 921526 -2474
 (6) Barents_Sea 735450 634497 100953 512601 222848
 (7) Greenland_Sea 596926 621572 -24646 518130 78796
 (8) Baffin_Bay_Gulf_of_St._Lawrence 1464407 1544205 -79798 1783076 -318669
 (9) Canadian_Archipelago 854282 853074 1209 853109 1174
 (10) Hudson_Bay 1260887 1260890 -2 1260838 49
 (11) Central_Arctic 3247904 3211522 36382 3087802 160103
 (12) Bering_Sea 746111 674028 72083 340789 405322
 (13) Baltic_Sea 30173 103770 -73598 134750 -104577
 (14) Sea_of_Okhotsk 1110709 1097753 12956 1079823 30886

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. And on day 61, the last push came from Bering and Okhotsk.

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.

 

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.