In 2012, Arctic sea ice reached record lows in area, extent, and volume, continuing the trend that has been apparent since the 1980s. Although ice volume in 2013 did not reach the lows of the previous three years, it was still lower than the previous record low reached in September 2007.
Arctic Sea Ice Dwindling
The chart below, based on data from PIOMAS, clearly shows the trend of Arctic sea ice volume. You can see that the minimum volume, which occurs in mid to late September each year, is projected to reach zero around 2020.
More information on this chart is available at Gerg’s Net. Ice loss so far in 2014 is now tracking very close to 2013 levels. It is quite possible that the ice volume this year will be less than last year, but probably will not reach a new record low. That may not sound too bad, but unfortunately these short-term variations don’t change the overall trend. We have passed a tipping point. There is no way to avoid a collapse of Arctic sea ice that will have drastic effects on weather in the Northern Hemisphere.
Here is the 30-day animation of ice thickness from Arctic HYCOM/CICE, ending August 2, 2014.
The Arctic breathes. Each year it goes through the cycle of maximum and minimum ice cover. Now the pattern is changing; soon the minimum will be zero, meaning the Northern seas will be essentially ice free, and that open water will last longer each summer. Be prepared for major changes in the Northern temperate zones—stalled weather patterns and bigger storms, hotter in some areas and colder in others, wetter here and dryer there, and less predictability all around.
More images and information are available at Cafe Nexo. As always, your input, questions, and criticism are welcome.