Polar sea ice extremes – September 2016

Latest Arctic sea ice – 7 Sep 2016

It’s not quite reached the minimum sea ice extent in the Arctic but it’s close. The average date for the Arctic minimum is in fact the 11th of September as far as I can see, and looking at the latest figures up until the 7th of September that’s still in doubt, especially as the minima could still occur as late as the 21st (as it did in 1989) which could mean a further two weeks of decline.

Arctic sea ice extent minima 1978-2016
Arctic sea ice extent minima 1978-2016

Meanwhile 180° south, the Antarctic sea ice is reaching its peak, which if my programming is correct is still 12 days short of the average data maxima occurs on the 19th of September. The increase in sea ice has taken quite a knock in the last 10 days, and at the moment the 2016 maximum has dropped to the 22nd highest since 1979.

Latest Antarctic sea ice 7 Sep 2016
Antarctic sea ice extent maxima 1978-2016
Antarctic sea ice extent maxima 1978-2016

Looking at the bigger picture and the rolling 365 day mean since 1989 it’s clear that as the Arctic sea ice has dropped by 14.1% in those 27 years whilst at the same time the Antarctic sea ice has increased by 7.6%, although in the last year that increase has slowed quickly.



Author: xmetman

An ex-metman passionate about all things to do with weather, climate and clouds

2 thoughts on “Polar sea ice extremes – September 2016”

  1. I agree with what you say, and if I were younger say in my early twenties, then I think I would live to see questions like this answered within my lifetime.

  2. The big question is why has the Antarctic been gaining sea ice extent while the Arctic has been losing? It does look like the Arctic may be stabilizing a bit since 2008 and likewise, the Antarctic may be starting a decline. I suspect ice extent in both of these areas oscillates over many different time scales, so that linear extrapolations don’t have much predictive capability. We obviously need many more years of data to have a better understanding. If I could only live for a few thousand years it would be interesting to see.

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