Last week I wrote about how dire I thought the latest Arctic sea ice figures were. Since then I’ve been keeping an even a closer eye on them than I usually do, and if anything they look even worse. For the 27th of October, 2016 has the lowest sea ice extent on record (since 1979), with only 74.6% of average, and far lower than 2012 (which is second lowest) by over 400,000 square kilometers or 4.6% by area. I know things can change, and I know it’s still early in the season, but remember you read it here first because I’ve heard nobody in the media make any mention of this slump as yet as they surely will.
It was only at the beginning of the month that the National and Snow and Ice Data Center [NSIDC] were saying that Arctic sea ice had increased at a rapid rate (see below), which at first it did do, as it bounced back from a very early minimum, but I think they may have spoken too soon.
Courtesy of the NSIDC
Don’t look for any solace in the Antarctic either, because things are also pretty extreme there as well, with the value for the 27th of October also at a record low for that date (at 94.9% of average), with sea ice now tracking just below the x2 standard deviation area of the graph.
I’ve added some code to my Sea Ice application to download the sea ice extent images from the National Snow and Ice Data Center [NSIDC] and then put them together to create an animated GIF of the year to year changes in the ice extent in the months of March and September of each year since 1979, for both the Arctic and Antarctic. Apart from the first one, I may have not quite got the animation speed quite right as they appear a little on the quick side to me.
March Arctic Maximum (1979-2016)
September Arctic Minimum (1979-2016)
September Antarctic Maximum (1979-2016)
March Antarctic Minimum (1979-2016)
I think animated GIF’s are terrific. They are easy to put together, which is good for me as a programmer, and in the last few years there has been a tremendous resurgence in them on the internet. Here are the last 3 years monthly sea ice extents for the Arctic and Antarctic, it gives me the distinct impression that planet Earth is breathing in and out.
Antarctic Month Sea Ice (Sep 2013 – Sep 2016)
Arctic Month Sea Ice (Sep 2013 – Sep 2016)
The Sea Ice Index from the National Snow and Ice Data Center [NSIDC] is operational again after being out of service since the end of March. The NSIDC say on their web page:
On the 5 April 2016, the vertically polarized 37 GHz (37V) channel of the SSMIS instrument on the DMSP-F17 satellite began yielding compromised brightness temperature data. This channel is one of those used to estimate sea ice concentration shown in the Sea Ice Index, so data processing was temporarily suspended… After investigating the difference in ice extent as the algorithm tie points were varied, it was found that the current F17 tie points provided the best match in sea ice extent for the overlap period, so no adjustment in algorithm parameters was needed for F18.
For more detailed information follow this link. The latest values for the 16th of June from the Arctic show the sea ice extent to be 88.9% of average for this time of year, the lowest since 1979 when records of this sort began. As you can it’s well out of the x2 standard deviation area and tracking much lower than the previous lowest year of 2014 (in red), although in recent weeks the gap between them as narrowed it still looks odds on to be the lowest Arctic sea ice on record.
Latest Arctic Sea Ice (16 Jun)
The Antarctic is still managing to keep close to the average with sea ice extents currently 99.3% of average for the 16 June, although significantly down on the values for the same day over the last three years.
Latest Antarctic Sea Ice (16 Jun)