Highest Arctic Sea Ice Extent Since 2009, 30/1

February 1, 2020

The Arctic sea ice extent is within 1 SD of the 1979-2019 mean and the highest since 2009 on this day. It is no surprise that this remains unreported in media. A plot of the sea extent time series from 2007 to 2020 shows no significant trend and lacks any evidence for a crisis in the Arctic.

Mapped Arctic sea ice extent (SIE) on 30/01/2020 was 14.30 million km2 which is 400,000 km2 or 2.4% less than the 1979-2019 average, Figure 1.  This is largest sea ice extent on this day since 2009 and is within 1 SD of the 1979-2019 mean ice extent.

The average sea ice accumulation rate in the last 5 days is 60,000 km2/day. The 2019-2020 winter rate of sea ice accumulation is amongst the highest on record and sea ice extent, volume and thickness are not expected to peak until March, 2020.

Sea Ice Extent

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Figure 1,  MASIE Arctic Sea Ice Extent and SIE Median for the period 1981-2010
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Figure 2, Arctic Sea Ice Extent (MASIE Database – see above image) for the month of January for the period 1979-2020 with the 1979-2019 average.

Figure 2, shows the daily sea ice extent data for January for the period of available data from 1979 to 2020. The current sea ice extent is well within the 1 SD of the 1979-2019 average and is the highest since 2009. Arctic sea ice extent shows little trend since 2010, Figure 3.

Arctic sea ice extent is not expected to peak until March 2020, Figure 4.

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Figure 3, Daily sea ice extent plot for the period 2006 through 2020.
Figure 4 Annual Arctic sea ice extent 2017-2020 and average and +/- 1SD for the 1917 to 2019

Sea Ice Volume

The minimum and maximum sea ice volume declined from 1994 to 2010, Figure 5 but since 2010, Figure 6, has shown little change.

Figure 5, Sea Ice Volume 1979 to 2019 shows decline from 1994 to 2010 but little change in the last decade.
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Figure 6, Sea Ice Volume for the period from 2006 to 31/12/201. Credit Polar Science Centre, University of Washington

Sea Ice Thickness

Sea ice thickness is calculated from the sea ice volume and sea ice extent, Figure 7, and as would be expected shows a similar trend with decline from 1996 through 2010 and very little change in the last decade, Figure 8.

What can be concluded is that the Arctic is not disappearing and that there is little evidence to support the endless claims over the decades that the Arctic sea ice will vanish during a coming summer. While CO2 has increased during this period sea ice extent has failed to decline as predicted. Where is the crisis in the Arctic as there seems to be no relationship between atmospheric CO2 and Arctic ice extent, volume or thickness?

Figure 7, Arctic Sea Ice Thickness calculated using the NSIDC and PIOMAS data for the period from 1989-2019 (latest data)

Figure 8, Arctic Sea Ice Thickness calculated using the NSIDC and PIOMAS data for the period from 2007-2019 (latest data)

The extent of Arctic sea ice varies from summer to winter. The sea ice extent shown here relies on data from the Multisensor Snow and Ice Mapping System (IMS) that runs at the National Ice Centre. The IMS product uses several satellite data sources including passive microwave, but it is also based on visual analysis and other data sources and undergoes a form of manual data fusion. The data reported here has a 1 km resolution and was sourced from the National Snow and Ice Data Centre

Sea Ice Volume is calculated using the Pan-Arctic Ice Ocean Modelling and Assimilation System (PIOMAS Zhang and Rothrock, 2003) developed at APL/PSC. Sea ice volume depends on areal extent and thickness and while extent can be readily measured, thickness cannot and the estimate used here relies on assimilation of observations into numerical models as a way to estimate volume on a continuous basis.

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