Cyclone May Push Sea Ice to Record Low
August 15, 2016
At about this moment in 2012, a humongous cyclone collided with the shrinking ice pack in the arctic ocean, and degraded the ice cover so seriously that a the current low record for ice cover was set in that year(see 2012 sea ice vid above).
In the last few months, sea ice loss has been running close to 2012 levels, but most observers were guessing a few weeks ago that we would not see a new low record set.
The 2016 trend line managed to end July right between 2011 and 2015, it is still in 3rd position as we speak, and now August weather is going to keep the race exciting. Another big cyclone is on its way and will hit the ice pack the day after tomorrow (no pun intended). This storm will not be as intense as the Great Arctic Cyclone of 2012, but it will be almost as big, and linger for a few days. I think it’s the second biggest storm I have seen since starting this blog, back in 2010.
It’s difficult to tell whether this storm will have as much of an effect as GAC-2012 had. The ice pack was much weaker back then due to plenty of periods that were conducive to melting, in other words melting momentum. There hasn’t been much melting momentum to speak of this year, as there has been little preconditioning of the ice pack during May and June, and cloudy conditions kept dominating the Arctic up till last week.
There has been a second kind of momentum, though, caused by the preceding mild winter and the spectacular retreat at the very start of the melting season. Snow cover melted out really fast and sea surface temperatures have been as high as they’ve ever been. A handful of cyclones so far have helped disperse the ice pack, with quite a large zone of ice, jutting out from the Central Arctic towards the East Siberian Sea, about to bear the brunt of the big storm (source: Uni Bremen):