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Sea Ice Extent and Volume Update

February 07, 2014; 4:41 PM

Arctic

Arctic sea ice extent remained below average for the month of January and was the 4th lowest in the satellite record, according to the folks at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).

Trend in January Arctic sea ice extent.

The European Space Agency (ESA) launched a satellite (CryoSat) in 2010 which is able to provide improved estimates of sea ice thickness and volume.

However, greater retention of sea ice in September 2013 allowed the overall thickness and volume to increase compared to recent years.

The latest Arctic sea ice extent compared to normal.

-Arctic sea ice volume in the autumn of 2013 was 50 percent higher than the autumn of 2012.

-It is estimated that about 90 percent of the increase in volume is due to retention of thick, multi-year ice around northern Greenland and northern Canada. However, ice volume in October 2013 still ranked among the lowest in the past 30+ years.

-Sea ice growth in the Arctic was near normal in January.

-Temperatures in the Arctic averaged above normal last month.

Antarctic

-Sea ice extent remains well above normal.

-Last month had the 2nd highest January extent in the 36-year satellite record.

-However, the increase in extent is not uniform around the Antarctic continent.

A new study by Li and colleagues argues that changes in the north Atlantic and tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures may be driving long-term, subtle trends in Southern Ocean winds that would explain the regional trends in sea ice cover. Their results link higher Atlantic sea surface temperatures since 1979 to reduced sea level pressure in the Amundsen Sea, contributing to the resulting dipole-like sea ice pattern between the northern Ross Sea (where sea ice is increasing) and the northern Bellingshausen Seas (where it is decreasing). (from the NSIDC)

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com

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