Arctic Sea Ice Anomaly Continues Record Plunge

Sea ice area anomaly fell to a new record low today as Arctic refreeze continued to lag normal seasonal refreeze. Today Arctic sea ice anomaly was 2,709,000 square kilometers below the 1979-2008 average. Today’s anomaly broke the record set yesterday by 4,000 square kilometers. Based on the current, somewhat slow, rate of refreeze, it appears possible that new record low anomalies will be set over the coming days.

A high amount of latent heat in the Arctic appears to be fueling this phenomena. Temperatures range from 10-20 degrees Celsius above normal over a broad area. And, so far, refreeze has been slow to catch up to even the record low values set in 2007. However, with all this said, some extent measurements (a measurement that doesn’t include gaps behind the ice edge), are beginning to approach the extent measurements from 2007. What this shows is that the ice edge is advancing fast enough to begin to make up gains, but large holes remain behind the ice edge, showing that some of the refreeze is superficial and that record lows still hold in the region.

Current rates of refreeze coupled with high Arctic temperatures would seem to point toward record or near record low ice area and extent for much of the remainder of this fall.



Arctic Refreeze Still Slow; Ice Area, Extent, At Record Lows For the Date; Storms Pulling Warm Air Up From South

Today, Arctic sea ice is currently at its record low for the date in all measures for extent and area. Cyrosphere Today is showing sea ice area at 3.57 million square kilometers. This is 270,000 square kilometers below the record low set for this date back in 2007. Sea ice extent, according to JAXA, is also about 350,000 square kilometers below the record low for today set in 2007 as well.

Refreeze has been at the pace of about 75,000 square kilometers per day. If this pace continues, the Arctic will experience record low or near record low sea ice coverage through much of the fall.

We have seen strong heat transport into the Arctic this year with temperatures above average over most of the Arctic. The below graph shows temperatures as high as 15-17 degrees Celsius above average covering broad swaths of the Arctic Ocean. These large areas are, likely, remaining warm due to heat transfer through the, mostly unfrozen, ocean surface and via heat transport of warmer air from the south by an ongoing change in the polar wind pattern.

One of the primary vehicles of heat transport this year has been storms. Currently, a moderate Arctic cyclone is circulating in an area just north of the Canadian Archipelago. Its convective swirl is drawing moisture and warmer air up from the south and depositing it over open water and over regions currently attempting re-freeze. You can see the convective swirl of heat energy associated with this storm in the temperature graph below.

Notice the curlicue pattern of green and blue as warmer air invades from the south, displacing colder air to the north. Another interesting and concerning feature on this map is the fact that cold temperatures have displaced toward the south, near Greenland. Meanwhile, the northern geographic pole has become prone to warmer temperature fluxes and incursions from the south.

These observations appear to be a validation of the new trend of heat transport into the Arctic, increasing rate of Arctic temperature rise, more rapid melt, and a rising risk of extreme weather due to a change in circumpolar wind patterns identified in a recent report from NOAA.


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