Extra Icy Arctic in May

Image from earth:nullschool showing arctic wind patterns. This is the link to the animated display:

In May Arctic ice continues to be more extensive than recently.  As previously reported, central and Atlantic sea ice is above decadal averages.  The image below shows surprising growth since day 120 (April 30), with a pause the last few days.

Things are different on the Pacific side where Bering in particular has melted ahead of schedule, and now extending in Chukchi sea, inside the actual Arctic basin.

The graph below shows how in recent days 2017 NH ice extents have grown above average, even including the exceptionally low amounts of ice in the Pacific, Bering in particular.

Note that as of day 138, yesterday, 2017 NH ice was 150k km2 above average, 300k above SII estimates, 550k above 2007 and nearly 800k km2 more than last year.

The graph below shows Arctic ice excluding the Pacific seas of Bering and Okhotsk.  This provides an even more dramatic view of this years ice extents.  Mid April Arctic ice was average, and look what has happened since May began on day 121.  There was a drop and a rise, with a current surplus of 450k km2.

The table for day 138 shows the regional extents for 2017 compared to averages and 2007.

Region 2017138 Day 138
2017-Ave. 2007138 2017-2007
 (0) Northern_Hemisphere 12765934 12609649 156285 12228251 537683
 (1) Beaufort_Sea 1037364 1035052 2313 1063324 -25960
 (2) Chukchi_Sea 855121 935117 -79997 940430 -85309
 (3) East_Siberian_Sea 1068289 1082898 -14609 1069398 -1109
 (4) Laptev_Sea 897845 871037 26807 789644 108201
 (5) Kara_Sea 931636 883725 47911 892687 38949
 (6) Barents_Sea 526079 378812 147267 335179 190899
 (7) Greenland_Sea 629810 612779 17031 578928 50883
 (8) Baffin_Bay_Gulf_of_St._Lawrence 1286982 1059735 227247 1002295 284687
 (9) Canadian_Archipelago 851190 834484 16706 840548 10642
 (10) Hudson_Bay 1203259 1157573 45687 1132632 70627
 (11) Central_Arctic 3247685 3225767 21917 3231808 15877
 (12) Bering_Sea 86844 339072 -252228 227132 -140288
 (13) Baltic_Sea 7716 4442 3274 4398 3318
 (14) Sea_of_Okhotsk 134303 186523 -52219 117127 17177

The 300k km2 deficit in Bering and Okhotsk is evident.  Also Chukchi is starting to show the effects from early Bering melting.  Other seas are above average, with large surpluses in Baffin and Barents sea.

Some insight into the unusual Arctic ice growth comes from AER Arctic Report and Forecast May 8, 2017

Currently positive pressure/geopotential height anomalies are mostly focused on the North Atlantic side of the Arctic with mostly negative pressure/geopotential height anomalies across the mid-latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere (NH). This is resulting in a near record low Arctic Oscillation (AO) and North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) for May.

It might be the second week of May but an unusually strong block/high pressure exists in the northern North Atlantic including Iceland and Greenland and is more commonly associated with winter. The unusually strong block is contributing to not only below normal temperatures to both sides of the North Atlantic, including Europe and the Eastern US but late season snowfall to Southeastern Canada, the Northeastern US and Russia. The negative geopotential height anomalies that have developed both downstream across western Eurasia including Europe and upstream across the Eastern US are predicted to persist for much of the month of May helping to ensure a relatively cool month of May for both Europe and the Eastern US.


Do not be mislead by reports of declining sea ice in the Arctic; it is a distraction based on early melting in the Pacific, especially Bering sea.

Meanwhile, on the Atlantic side of the Arctic, we have sightings and reports of ice surges along the coast of Newfoundland, such amounts not seen since the 1980s. Below is a NASA satellite photo of Newfoundland Sea Ice, May 5, 2017 Source: Newsfoundsander


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