Scroll down to listen to Margo’s report.
Here are a few off-the-cuff comments of my own.
It would seem that, according to the experts, the melt season is over in the Arctic and once again, just when it looked dire we are once again “saved by the bell” and are now being told that the ice is in the best shape since 2014 and we are expected to take them at their word.
For the first years of covering climate change on this blog I relied on what others were saying. In 2018 I started following the Arctic ice with Margo and along the way we have both learned together how to look at the data and discern what really is going on.
So 2021 is the fourth year in a row that we have been looking at this so we have a fair idea of what is really going on.
It has been a pattern that at the beginning of the season it looks really bad and there is talk of a Blue Ocean Event but by late – August everything changes miraculously – like a conjurer’s trick and we are fed information about how this was the second, or the third worst year since 2012.
But we know that over the four years we have been looking at this the thickness and quality of the ice has continued to deteriorate so that a lot of what they define as “sea ice thickness” is nothing less than slush.
This year is no exception.
We started off with dire warnings from the Polarstern,
Then absolutely amazing high temperatures in the Russian Arctic along with huge wildfires in Siberia, some of which reawoke from last years fires that continued to burn underneath the winter snow.
This is what Sam Carana was reporting in July:
Even the sea ice extent charts showed an extent at least equal to 2012.
Then by August this is what they are telling is.
And as of a few days ago…
The following is the thickness on 3 September.
Earlier, I watched how melting just ate through the 0.5 m thick (purple) ice as if it was ice cream so I extrapolated and speculated that all the thin, 0.5 ice would disappear by now.
But it appears not to have.
I have to ask if this pattern of the past four years of earlier melting just fizzling out at the “last minute” is just a series of coinkydinks (what I call “coincidences”, which I refuse to believe in) – some special conditions that just happen to slow the whole process, even if it means that ice goes on to continue melting even after the Arctic Ocean has become dark.
Or is there something more nefarious happening, such as ice nucleation?
I find myself asking the same questions again
Here is a video I made back in 2019 to attempt to find an explanation of a similar phenomenon back then
And this is what the NSIDC reported
Arctic ice at highest minimum since 2014
22 September, 2021
On September 16, Arctic sea ice likely reached its annual minimum extent of 4.72 million square kilometers (1.82 million square miles). The 2021 minimum is the twelfth lowest in the nearly 43-year satellite record. The last 15 years are the lowest 15 sea ice extents in the satellite record. The amount of multi-year ice (ice that has survived at least one summer melt season), is one of the lowest levels in the ice age record, which began in 1984.
In the Antarctic, sea ice extent is now falling rapidly, but it is still too early to assume that the maximum has been reached. The maximum for Antarctic sea ice typically occurs in late September or early October. However, Antarctic sea ice extent is highly variable near the maximum because of storms acting to expand or compact the extended ice edge.
Please note that this is a preliminary announcement. Changing winds or late-season melt could still reduce the Arctic ice extent, as happened in 2005 and 2010. NSIDC scientists will release a full analysis of the Arctic melt season, and discuss the Antarctic winter sea ice growth, in early October.
Overview of conditions
On September 16, sea ice reached its annual minimum extent of 4.72 million square kilometers (1.82 million square miles) (Figure 1). In response to the setting sun and falling temperatures, ice extent has begun rising and will continue to rise through autumn and winter. However, a shift in wind patterns or a period of late season melt could still push the ice extent lower.
The minimum extent was reached two days later than the 1981 to 2010 median minimum date of September 14. The interquartile range of minimum dates is September 11 to September 19.
Conditions in context
This year’s minimum set on September 16 was 1.33 million square kilometers (514,000 square miles) above the record minimum extent in the satellite era, which occurred on September 17, 2012 (Figure 2). It is also 1.50 million square kilometers (579,000 square miles) below the 1981 to 2010 average minimum extent, which is equivalent to twice the size of Texas.
In the 43-year-satellite record, 15 of the lowest minimums have all occurred in the last 15 years.
Multiyear ice extent is one of the lowest on record. First-year-ice coverage increased dramatically since last year, jumping from 1.58 million square kilometers (610,000 square miles) to 2.71 million square kilometers (1.05 million square miles). The increase in total extent from last year’s minimum to this year’s is hence comprised of first-year ice.
The overall, downward trend in the minimum extent from 1979 to 2021 is 13.0 percent per decade relative to the 1981 to 2010 average. The loss of sea ice is about 80,600 square kilometers (31,100 square miles) per year, equivalent to losing the size of the state of South Carolina or the country of Austria annually.
Fifteen lowest minimum Arctic sea ice extents (satellite record, 1979 to present)
|RANK||YEAR||MINIMUM ICE EXTENT||DATE|
|IN MILLIONS OF SQUARE KILOMETERS||IN MILLIONS OF SQUARE MILES|
Values within 40,000 square kilometers (15,000 square miles) are considered tied. The 2020 value has changed from 3.74 to 3.82 million square kilometers (1.47 million square miles) when final analysis data updated near-real-time data. The 2020 date of minimum also changed from September 15 to September 16.
And, finally sea ice thickness for the last 30 days