2013 Melt Season – Arctic Ice in Free Fall Again?
July 21, 2013
The most amazing thing about 2012 in the arctic was how un-amazing it was in terms of weather and warming – yet ice last year plunged to a stunning new low, most likely because the ice has become so thin and fragile that even the wear and tear of a normal year are enough to devastate the ice pack.
This year’s melt season has trended only a little below the 1981 – 2010 average up until about mid-june, then taken a dramatic downward turn. If it does not level off, ice loss will soon match the 2012 pace.
It’s not clear if 2013 levels will match 2012′s astonishing record low, but – with temperatures over the Arctic Ocean 1-3 degrees above average – the 2013 melt season has picked up in earnest during July.
“During the first two weeks of July, ice extent declined at a rate of 132,000 square kilometers (51,000 square miles) per day. This was 61% faster than the average rate of decline over the period 1981 to 2010 of 82,000 square kilometers (32,000 square miles) per day,” the National Snow and Ice Data Center writes on its website.
Despite this rapid ice loss, the current mid-July 2013 sea ice extent is greater than 2012 at the same time by about 208,000 square miles NSIDC says.
Arctic shipping is set for a record year, underlining how melting sea ice is raising the prospect of an important new route for trade between Asia and Europe that shaves thousands of kilometres off the trip.
As of Friday, the administrators of the Northern Sea Route (NSR) – which follows the north coast of Russia – had granted permission to 204 ships to sail this year. In 2012, only 46 ships sailed the entire length from Europe to Asia, up from four vessels just two years earlier.
Commenter Danp opened a thread on the ASIF a couple of days ago, showing a cleaned up compilation he made of LANCE-MODIS satellite images (like commenter dabize did last year). The result looks very nice indeed, giving us a clear view of the holes on the Atlantic side of the Arctic, near the North Pole:
Ice experts weigh in – but those swiss-cheese like holes near the pole appear to be signs that we could see a dramatic disintegration later in the summer.
Arctic Sea Ice Blogger Neven adds the animation shown at the top of this post with this note:
At the same time Dutch blogger Lars Boelen has combined images from the all-new high-resolution sea ice concentration maps that are put out by the University of Hamburg (discussed a couple of weeks ago in this blog post)
To see the most recently updated video, check out Lars’ YouTube channel. He tries to update the video on a daily basis.
Below, last year’s Sea Ice Minimum video: