Arctic Ice Update as Melt Season in Full Swing

June 9, 2013

nsidc0613Arctic Sea Ice Blog:

……as always in the Arctic there is more than meets the sensor. The slowness shows itself mostly in the area and extent numbers (changing as we speak), and the main culprit is that cyclone that refuses to go away.

I initially said this would be a relatively small cyclone, and even called it theSmall Arctic Cyclone of 2013 in one of the two posts I devoted to it since the last ASI update, as a tongue-in-cheek reference to the Great Arctic Cyclone of 2012 (GAC-2012). But you know what? It ain’t that small, and what’s even more interesting: it just won’t go away.

For over two weeks now it’s been keeping things colder and cloudier over the central Arctic, but at the same time it’s been shaking and stirring the ice, wherever it passes. Not to the point that it makes the ice disappear – this isn’t August, most of the ice is still thick enough -, but it is showing how mobile the ice is, ripping holes in the ice pack that close up again once the storm has passed. It reminds me a bit of the 2010 melting season, when large regions with holes showed up in the middle of the ice pack.

So this cyclone is the big news of the melting season so far. Here’s the rest.

Sea ice area (SIA)

Cryosphere Today sea ice area data had the trend line of 2013 way above all the others at the end of the month, but it seems that the limit has been reached. After a century break a couple of days ago a very big drop of almost 250K was reported today for June the 6th.

Here’s the graph based on the latest data:


Here’s an animation of Danish Meteorological Institute SLP images for the last two weeks to get an idea of what’s been going on:

We see how the cyclone moved over the Central Arctic, shifted towards the American side of the Arctic, lost strength, but then re-intensified and moved back towards the Siberian coast, continuously followed (or pushed?) at the edges by high pressure systems with their clear skies and almost 24/7 insolation.

After two weeks the cyclone is still going strong and according to the 6-day weather forecast by the ECMWF model it’s going to stay that way for a while longer (click for a larger version):

‘A while longer’ is an understatement, as the cyclone is forecasted to stay at least for another week and possibly longer. On top of that we’ve got a nice little Arctic Dipole set up here, and that means a couple of things:

  • The cyclone is going to keep shaking and stirring a large part of the ice pack, as it moves back and forth between the Siberian coast and the Central Arctic
  • The high(s) over on the American side of the Arctic are going to provide lots of sunshine to the Canadian Archipelago, melting all the snow and increasing air temperatures; we’ll have to see how the ice in the Northwest Passage reacts to that
  • Both of these together are creating winds that will start pushing ice out of Fram Strait, especially after a couple of days when the whole train of ice floes gets on the move and gains momentum

It looks like the slow start is now behind us.

See More at the essential Arctic Sea Ice Blog.


6 Responses to “Arctic Ice Update as Melt Season in Full Swing”

  1. […] Arctic Sea Ice Blog: as always in the Arctic there is more than meets the sensor. The slowness shows itself mostly in the area and extent numbers (changing as we speak), and the main culprit is tha…  […]

  2. ahaveland Says:

    Arctic Basin is turning into a slush puppy and melting from the inside out with the persistent cyclone mushing the ice.
    The sea-ice graphs will probably drop like xenon balloons until September and show markedly distinct profiles.

  3. junkdrawer88 Says:

    Any word on the extent of saline mixing? That is, how much of the ice pack is being eaten from below?

  4. mrsircharles Says:

    That’s still just area, not volume! Sea ice mass is shrinking exponentially as this graph from NOAA is showing =>

  5. NevenA Says:

    I don’t see what a graph for Greenland mass balance has to do with sea ice. And volume at this moment is higher, according to the PIOMAS model.

    Thanks for the link, Peter. We’re looking at yet another fascinating melting season.

  6. joffan7 Says:

    The AMSR2 maps from Bremen show the breakup in the high arctic quite clearly, once you get used to the false color.

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