Global climate change

Update on Arctic Sea Ice Extent and Volume

4/18/2012, 10:06:20 AM

Sea ice extent in the Arctic region continues to run close to the 1979-2000 year average at this time. Thin, one-year ice continues to remain entrenched across a large part of the Bering Sea thanks in part to the bitterly cold winter and favorable winds into the early Spring.

However, just because the sea ice extent is running near normal at this time does not mean in any way that we are on the start of a long term recovery of Arctic sea ice. The situation is still rather bleak.

Image courtesy of the National Snow and Ice Data Center.


I am certainly no expert when it comes to the behavior of sea ice, but I suspect that we will see a significant decrease (greater decline than normal) during the month of May since there is a very high percentage of ice that is thin and will melt out quickly as temperatures continue to warm into early summer.

Latest MODIS high resolution image of Hudson Bay, Canada from earlier today shows most of the bay still covered with ice, which is normal for this time of year.


Arctic sea ice volume shows the true picture

The latest estimated Arctic sea ice volume, which takes into account both the extent and thickness of the ice, shows that 2012 is running right in line with the record low volume year of 2011. Image courtesy of the Polar Science Center at the University of Washington.


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Global climate change