Highest sea ice extent since 2015

The Arctic sea ice extent on the 11th of February was the highest for that date since 2015. The total had climbed to within two standard deviations of average and was only 3.8% below the 1988-2016 LTA for that date, which is quite remarkable given that it started from the second lowest minimum on record back in September, so much of the gain is from new sea ice this winter. A lot of the reason for this bounce back must be attributable to the fact that the polar vortex has remained very tight this winter, with fewer than average incursions of milder air from the south, or for that matter, less in the way of colder northerly outbreaks to export cold air further south – well that’s my theory anyway.

If you get fed up of my simple interpretation of what’s going on with Arctic sea ice extent then take a look at the NSID site for the bigger picture. The trouble with their view (in my opinion) is that they almost seem to want Arctic sea ice to be at record low levels, and if it’s not like it is this season, it’s just ho-hum.

Arctic sea ice extent for January 2020 was 13.65 million square kilometers (5.27 million square miles), placing it eighth lowest in the satellite record along with 2014. This was 770,000 square kilometers (297,000 square miles) below the 1981 to 2010 January average and 570,000 square kilometers (220,000 square miles) above the record low mark for January set in 2018. At the end of January, ice extent was below average over parts of the Bering Sea, the Sea of Okhotsk, and the East Greenland Sea. The near average extent in the Barents Sea contrasts with recent years, which were characterized by well below average extent in this area.


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