December lows

Daily extent of Arctic sea ice for December 2022 remained well below average for the entire month; at the end of the month, extent stood at fourth lowest in the satellite record. The average extent for the month ended up as seventh lowest in the satellite record. Antarctic extent is declining much faster than average as austral summer takes hold and is setting record low daily ice extents for the satellite era as of December 22. As such, global sea ice extent is well below average.

Overview of conditions

Figure 1a. Arctic sea ice extent for December 2022 was 11.92 million square kilometers (4.60 million square miles). The magenta line shows the 1981 to 2010 average extent for that month. Sea Ice Index data. About the data||Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center|High-resolution image

Figure 1a. Arctic sea ice extent for December 2022 was 11.92 million square kilometers (4.60 million square miles). The magenta line shows the 1981 to 2010 average extent for that month. Sea Ice Index data. About the data

Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
High-resolution image

Figure 1b. The graph above shows Arctic sea ice extent as of January 4, 2023, along with daily ice extent data for four previous years and the record low year. 2022 to 2023 is shown in blue, 2021 to 2022 in green, 2020 to 2021 in orange, 2019 to 2020 in brown, 2018 to 2019 in magenta, and 2012 in dashed brown. The 1981 to 2010 median is in dark gray. The gray areas around the median line show the interquartile and interdecile ranges of the data. Sea Ice Index data.||Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center|High-resolution image

Figure 1b. The graph above shows Arctic sea ice extent as of January 4, 2023, along with daily ice extent data for four previous years and the record low year. 2022 to 2023 is shown in blue, 2021 to 2022 in green, 2020 to 2021 in orange, 2019 to 2020 in brown, 2018 to 2019 in magenta, and 2012 in dashed brown. The 1981 to 2010 median is in dark gray. The gray areas around the median line show the interquartile and interdecile ranges of the data. Sea Ice Index data.

Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
High-resolution image

The average Arctic sea ice extent for December 2022 was 11.92 million square kilometers (4.60 million square miles). This is the seventh lowest in the satellite record for the month (Figure 1a). Extent was 920,000 square kilometers (355,000 square miles) below the 1981 to 2010 average of 12.84 million square kilometers (4.96 million square miles) and 460,000 million square kilometers (178,000 square miles) above the record December low set in 2016 of 11.46 million square kilometers (4.42 square miles).

The rate of ice growth through the month was variable. It was faster than average through the first half of the month, then growth slowed, and then picked up the pace again. Over the last week of the month, ice growth was very slow, and as a result, total extent at the end of December stood at fourth lowest in the satellite record (Figure 1b). Regionally, at month’s end, the ice edge was notably north of its average location in the Barents Sea and on the Russian side of the Bering Sea. Hudson Bay is now almost completely iced over.

Conditions in context

Figure 2a. This plot shows the departure from average air temperature in the Arctic at the 925 hPa level, in degrees Celsius, for December 2022. Yellows and reds indicate higher than average temperatures; blues and purples indicate lower than average temperatures. || Credit: NSIDC courtesy NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory Physical Sciences Laboratory|High-resolution image

Figure 2a. This plot shows the departure from average air temperature in the Arctic at the 925 hPa level, in degrees Celsius, for December 2022. Yellows and reds indicate higher than average temperatures; blues and purples indicate lower than average temperatures.

Credit: NSIDC courtesy NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory Physical Sciences Laboratory
High-resolution image

Figure 2b. This plot shows average sea level pressure in the Arctic in millibars for December 2022. Yellows and reds indicate high air pressure; blues and purples indicate low pressure. ||Credit: NSIDC courtesy NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory Physical Sciences Laboratory|High-resolution image

Figure 2b. This plot shows average sea level pressure in the Arctic in millibars for December 2022. Yellows and reds indicate high air pressure; blues and purples indicate low pressure.

Credit: NSIDC courtesy NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory Physical Sciences Laboratory
High-resolution image

Average December air temperatures at the 925 hPa level (approximately 2,500 feet above the surface) were above the 1991 to 2020 average over essentially all of the Arctic Ocean, but notably in the area centered over the East Siberian Sea (Figure 2a). The unusually warm conditions in this area, which were 6 to 8 degrees Celsius (11 to 14 degrees Fahrenheit) above average, appear to be related to the large area of below-average sea level pressure over the northern North Pacific Ocean pumping warm air into the East Siberian Sea (Figure 2b). Air temperatures were also above average over the eastern Canadian Arctic and most of Greenland.

December 2022 compared to previous years

Figure 3. Monthly December ice extent for 1979 to 2022 shows a decline of 3.5 percent per decade.||Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center| High-resolution image

Figure 3. Monthly December ice extent for 1978 to 2022 shows a decline of 3.5 percent per decade.

Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
High-resolution image

The downward linear trend in December sea ice extent over the 45-year satellite record is 44,400 square kilometers (17,100 square miles) per year, or 3.5 percent per decade relative to the 1981 to 2010 average. Based on the linear trend, since 1978, November has lost 2.28 million square kilometers (880,000 square miles). This is equivalent to about 1.5 times the size of Alaska.

The year in review

Figure 4a. The graph above shows Arctic sea ice extent for 2022 (blue line) and 2012, the record minimum year (dashed red line). The gray line shows the 1981 to 2010 median, the dark gray shaded area shows the interquartile range, and the light gray shaded area shows the interdecile range of the data. Sea Ice Index data.||Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center|High-resolution image

Figure 4a. The graph above shows Arctic sea ice extent for 2022 (blue line) and 2012, the record minimum year (dashed red line). The gray line shows the 1981 to 2010 median, the dark gray shaded area shows the interquartile range, and the light gray shaded area shows the interdecile range of the data. Sea Ice Index data.

Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
High-resolution image

Figure 4b. This plot shows the departure from average air temperature in the Arctic at the 925 hPa level, in degrees Celsius, for summer 2022 from June 1 to August 31. Yellows and reds indicate higher than average temperatures; blues and purples indicate lower than average temperatures. || Credit: NSIDC courtesy NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory Physical Sciences Laboratory|High-resolution image

Figure 4b. This plot shows the departure from average air temperature in the Arctic at the 925 hPa level, in degrees Celsius, for summer 2022 from June 1 to August 31. Yellows and reds indicate higher than average temperatures; blues and purples indicate lower than average temperatures.

Credit: NSIDC courtesy NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory Physical Sciences Laboratory
High-resolution image

Figure 4c. This plot shows average sea level pressure in the Arctic in millibars for summer 2022 from June 1 to August 31. Yellows and reds indicate high air pressure; blues and purples indicate low pressure. ||Credit: NSIDC courtesy NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory Physical Sciences Laboratory|High-resolution image

Figure 4c. This plot shows average sea level pressure in the Arctic in millibars for summer 2022 from June 1 to August 31. Yellows and reds indicate high air pressure; blues and purples indicate low pressure.

Credit: NSIDC courtesy NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory Physical Sciences Laboratory
High-resolution image

While Arctic sea ice extent was below average over the entire year (Figure 4a), no records were set, and the September average sea ice extent, at 4.87 million square kilometers (1.88 million square miles), tied with 2010 as only the eleventh lowest in the satellite record. The September daily minimum extent, set on September 18 at 4.67 million square kilometers (1.80 million square miles), tied with 2017 and 2018 for tenth lowest in the satellite record. The September minimum extent is strongly dependent on summer weather conditions, and summer average air temperatures, while above climatological averages over most of the Arctic Ocean, were not extreme (Figure 4b), generally from 1.5 to 2.5 degrees Celsius (3 to 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 1991 to 2020 baseline. The summer average sea level pressure pattern was in turn quite flat, meaning light winds. A pronounced Beaufort Sea High, which generally favors low September sea ice extent, is notably lacking (Figure 4c).

Ice down under

Figure 5a. This map from January 3, 2023, shows a large polynya that now spans the Ross Sea and much of the western Amundsen Sea, as well as polynyas that have appeared in Pine Island Bay and the southeastern Weddell Sea. Sea ice concentration data are from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer 2 (AMSR2) imagery. ||Credit: University of Bremen|High-resolution image

Figure 5a. This map from January 3, 2023, shows a large polynya that now spans the Ross Sea and much of the western Amundsen Sea, as well as polynyas that have appeared in Pine Island Bay and the southeastern Weddell Sea. Sea ice concentration data are from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer 2 (AMSR2) imagery.

Credit: University of Bremen
High-resolution image

Figure 5b. This plot shows the departure from average air temperature in the Antarctic at the 925 hPa level, in degrees Celsius, for November and December 2022. Yellows and reds indicate higher than average temperatures; blues and purples indicate lower than average temperatures. || Credit: NSIDC courtesy NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory Physical Sciences Laboratory|High-resolution image

Figure 5b. This plot shows the departure from average air temperature in the Antarctic at the 925 hPa level, in degrees Celsius, for November and December 2022. Yellows and reds indicate higher than average temperatures; blues and purples indicate lower than average temperatures.

Credit: NSIDC courtesy NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory Physical Sciences Laboratory
High-resolution image

Summer is taking hold in the Southern Hemisphere. While the decline in Antarctic Sea ice extent is always steep at this time of year, it has been unusually rapid this year, and at the end of December, Antarctic sea ice extent stood at the lowest in the 45-year satellite record. Sea ice extent was more than 500,000 square kilometers (193,000 square miles) below the previous record year of 2018; four of the five lowest years for the last half of December have occurred since 2016. As is evident in sea ice maps prepared by colleagues at the University of Bremen from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer 2 (AMSR2) data, an extremely large polynya now spans the Ross Sea and much of the western Amundsen Sea. Polynyas have also appeared in Pine Island Bay and the southeastern Weddell Sea (Figure 5a). There are also extensive areas of low sea ice concentration in the Weddell Sea that are likely ready to melt out.

Weather-related causes for the unusually low sea ice extent seem to stem from a band of above-average  temperatures extending from the Weddell Sea westward to the Ross Sea and eastern Wilkes Land (Figure 5b). Air temperatures at the 925 mb level were more than 1 degree Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit) above average over the entire area in November and December, and were more than 2 degrees Celsius (4 degrees Fahrenheit) above average over the Ross Sea. The past two months have seen periods of strong circumpolar winds and below-average air pressure over the continent, leading to strong winds from the west across the Peninsula. This has caused melting along the eastern Peninsula ice, above-average air temperatures over the Weddell Sea, and outflowing winds from the continent, opening the polynyas and hastening ice decline. This wind pattern is summarized by the Southern Annular Mode (SAM) index, a measure of the intensity of the circumpolar winds; this has been in a positive phase for most of 2022 and has been quite strong in the last quarter of the year.

Lingering open water areas

November’s rate of sea ice growth in the Arctic was near average. Several of the peripheral seas have open water areas late into the autumn season. Warm air temperatures persist in the northern North Atlantic and northwestern Europe. In Antarctica, sea ice extent is low, and persistent low air pressure in the Amundsen Sea has created a somewhat unusual sea ice distribution.

Overview of conditions

Figure 1. Arctic sea ice extent for XXXX 20XX was X.XX million square kilometers (X.XX million square miles). The magenta line shows the 1981 to 2010 average extent for that month. Sea Ice Index data. About the data||Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center|High-resolution image

Figure 1. Arctic sea ice extent for November 2022 was 9.71 million square kilometers (3.75 million square miles). The magenta line shows the 1981 to 2010 average extent for that month. Sea Ice Index data. About the data

Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
High-resolution image

The November 2022 average Arctic sea ice extent was 9.71 million square kilometers (3.75 million square miles). This is the eighth lowest in the satellite record for the month (Figure 1a). Extent was 990,000 square kilometers (382,000 square miles) below the 1981 to 2010 average of 10.7 million square kilometers (4.13 million square miles) and 1.05 million square kilometers (405,000 square miles) above the record November low set in 2016 of 8.66 million square kilometers (3.34 square miles).

Overall for the month, ice extent increased at a near-average rate, but with much faster-than-average growth for the first week balanced by slow growth over the remainder of the month.  Open water conditions persisted in part of the Chukchi Sea, approximately two weeks late in the season relative to the 1981 to 2010 average. Similarly, ice extent has remained below average in the Kara and Barents Seas, and in Hudson Bay. Ice in the Bering Sea is limited to Norton Sound and Kotzebue Sound. The coast of Svalbard in the far northern North Atlantic remains ice free at the end of the month.

Conditions in context

Figure 2. The graph above shows Arctic sea ice extent as of XXXXX XX, 20XX, along with daily ice extent data for four previous years and the record low year. 2022 is shown in blue, 2021 in green, 2020 in orange, 2019 in brown, 2018 in magenta, and 2012 in dashed brown. The 1981 to 2010 median is in dark gray. The gray areas around the median line show the interquartile and interdecile ranges of the data. Sea Ice Index data.||Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center|High-resolution image

Figure 2a. The graph above shows Arctic sea ice extent as of December 4, 2022, along with daily ice extent data for four previous years and the record low year. 2022 is shown in blue, 2021 in green, 2020 in orange, 2019 in brown, 2018 in magenta, and 2012 in dashed brown. The 1981 to 2010 median is in dark gray. The gray areas around the median line show the interquartile and interdecile ranges of the data. Sea Ice Index data.

Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
High-resolution image

Figure 2b. This plot shows the departure from average air temperature in the Arctic at the 925 hPa level, in degrees Celsius, for XXXmonthXX 20XX. Yellows and reds indicate higher than average temperatures; blues and purples indicate lower than average temperatures.||Credit: NSIDC courtesy NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory Physical Sciences Laboratory| High-resolution image

Figure 2b. This plot shows the departure from average air temperature in the Arctic at the 925 hPa level, in degrees Celsius, for November 2022. Yellows and reds indicate higher than average temperatures; blues and purples indicate lower than average temperatures.

Credit: NSIDC courtesy NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory Physical Sciences Laboratory
High-resolution image

Figure 2c. This plot shows average sea level pressure in the Arctic in millibars for XXXmonthXX 20XX. Yellows and reds indicate high air pressure; blues and purples indicate low pressure.||Credit: NSIDC courtesy NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory Physical Sciences Laboratory| High-resolution image

Figure 2c. This plot shows average sea level pressure in the Arctic in millibars for November 2022. Yellows and reds indicate high air pressure; blues and purples indicate low pressure.

Credit: NSIDC courtesy NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory Physical Sciences Laboratory
High-resolution image

Warm conditions prevailed in the northern North Atlantic and over northwestern Europe (Figure 2b). Air temperatures at the 925 mb level (approximately 2,500 feet above the surface) over much of the Greenland Sea (between Norway and Greenland) were 3 to 6 degrees Celsius (5 to 11 degrees Fahrenheit) above average. Temperatures in the northern Yukon and northeastern Alaska regions were about 4 degrees Celsius (7 degrees Fahrenheit) above average. However, the Siberian side of the Arctic experienced temperatures 1 to 3 degrees Celsius (2 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit) below average. The Baffin Bay region had temperatures 3 to 5 degrees Celsius (5 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit) below average.

Atmospheric circulation for the month was characterized by a strong low sea level pressure centered south of Iceland (Figure 2c). The counterclockwise circulation around this low is largely responsible for the widespread warm conditions in the northern North Atlantic and the cooler conditions in Baffin Bay. By contrast, the pressure field over the Arctic Ocean was fairly flat, indicating weak winds overall.

November 2022 compared to previous years

Figure 3. Monthly XXXXX ice extent for 1979 to 20XX shows a decline of X.X percent per decade.||Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center| High-resolution image

Figure 3. Monthly November ice extent for 1979 to 2022 shows a decline of 4.8 percent per decade.

Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
High-resolution image

The downward linear trend in November sea ice extent over the 45-year satellite record is 51,800 square kilometers (20,000 square miles) per year, or 4.8 percent per decade relative to the 1981 to 2010 average. Based on the linear trend, since 1978, November has lost 2.28 million square kilometers (880,000 square miles). This is equivalent to 1.5 times the size of Alaska.

Bloomin’ down under

This conceptual models shows what appears to be happening with ||Credit: |High-resolution image

Figure 4. These conceptual models show how the sun stimulates plankton grown at, near the surface, and on the sea floor. When coastal areas are ice free in early to mid-summer, more light penetrates through the water column to feed a plankton bloom at deeper depths. 

Credit: Shiozaki et al. 2022
High-resolution image

A new study by Shiozaki et al. (2022) reveals that plankton on the seabed in the Arctic Ocean is increasingly in bloom, as longer ice-free periods near the coast allow more light to reach the shallow coastal ocean bottom and stimulate growth (Figure 4). Since this represents an expansion of the area and volume that plankton can thrive, it has implications for bio-productivity in the Arctic food chain and sequestration of carbon by the ocean.

As sunshine returns to the Arctic in spring, it stimulates plankton growth at or near the surface—a typical plankton bloom. However, plankton growth is often limited by the nutrient level in the water column, and in many areas the surface bloom consumes all the nutrients in the top ocean layer. If the shallow coastal areas of the Arctic become ice free in early to mid-summer, more light can penetrate through the water column. This provides energy to plankton that have descended in the water column to depths where there are still abundant nutrients, resulting in a bloom on the sea floor.

The regions where this appears to be occurring are in the Chukchi Sea, but it could potentially occur over wide regions of the Siberian and Alaskan shallow continental shelf.

Antarctica’s spring

Figure 5. Antarctic sea ice extent for XXXX 20XX was X.XX million square kilometers (X.XX million square miles). The magenta line shows the 1981 to 2010 average extent for that month. Sea Ice Index data. About the data||Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center|High-resolution image

Figure 5. Antarctic sea ice extent for November 2022 was 15.06 million square kilometers (5.81 million square miles). The magenta line shows the 1981 to 2010 average extent for that month. Sea Ice Index data. About the data

Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
High-resolution image

Antarctic sea ice is declining rapidly now in response to seasonal warming. Sea ice extent is particularly low in the Bellingshausen Sea, where much of the eastern portion adjacent to the Antarctic Peninsula has been ice free for much of November. By sharp contrast, ice extent in the Amundsen Sea just west of the Bellingshausen, has extended much farther to the north than is typical and is the one area of the Antarctic sea ice that has above-average ice extent.

This is explained by the sea level pressure pattern. A strong low over much of the Amundsen Sea and eastern Ross Sea has driven a clockwise air circulation that has brought warm air from the north onto the western Peninsula region, and cold air from the continental ice sheet northward in the Amundsen Sea.

This low-pressure region is a well-known feature of Antarctica’s climate, and its strength is often measured by a climate index called the Antarctic Oscillation (AAO). The AAO index has been strongly positive for the entire month of November, indicating especially strong low pressure in the Amundsen Sea. In fact, the index has been generally positive for the entire year, and has become more positive over the past several decades.

Further reading

Shiozaki, T., A. Fujiwara, K. Sugie, K., S. Nishino, A. Makabe, and N. Harada. 2022. Bottom‐associated phytoplankton bloom and its expansion in the Arctic Ocean. Global Change Biology, 28(24), 7286-7295, doi:10.1111/gcb.16421.

 

Iced

As October drew to a close, freezing progressed rapidly in the Laptev Sea. In the Antarctic, where spring is slowly unfolding, overall ice extent is low, with patterns suggesting a strong persistent low atmospheric pressure in the Amundsen Sea.

Overview of conditions

Figure 1a. Arctic sea ice extent for October 2022 was 6.61 million square kilometers (2.55 million square miles). The magenta line shows the 1981 to 2010 average extent for that month. Sea Ice Index data. About the data||Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center|High-resolution image

Figure 1a. Arctic sea ice extent for October 2022 was 6.61 million square kilometers (2.55 million square miles). The magenta line shows the 1981 to 2010 average extent for that month. Sea Ice Index data. About the data

Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
High-resolution image

Figure 1b. The graph above shows Arctic sea ice extent as of November 2, 2022, along with daily ice extent data for four previous years and the record low year. 2022 is shown in blue, 2021 in green, 2020 in orange, 2019 in brown, 2018 in magenta, and 2012 in dashed brown. The 1981 to 2010 median is in dark gray. The gray areas around the median line show the interquartile and interdecile ranges of the data. Sea Ice Index data.||Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center|High-resolution image

Figure 1b. The graph above shows Arctic sea ice extent as of November 2, 2022, along with daily ice extent data for four previous years and the record low year. 2022 is shown in blue, 2021 in green, 2020 in orange, 2019 in brown, 2018 in magenta, and 2012 in dashed brown. The 1981 to 2010 median is in dark gray. The gray areas around the median line show the interquartile and interdecile ranges of the data. Sea Ice Index data.

Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
High-resolution image

The October 2022 average Arctic sea ice extent was 6.61 million square kilometers (2.55 million square miles). This is the eighth lowest in the satellite record (Figure 1a). Extent was 1.74 million square kilometers (672,000 square miles) below the 1981 to 2010 average of 8.35 million square kilometers (3.22 million square miles) and 1.28 million square kilometers (494,000 square miles) above the record minimum set in 2020 of 5.33 million square kilometers (2.06 million square miles).

Ice extent increased at a below average rate at the beginning of the month, and open water persisted for some time in the Laptev Sea, whereas the East Siberian Sea was among the first regions to freeze up. In the last ten days of the month, ice extent rapidly increased (Figure 1b) as the Laptev Sea iced over. The delayed freeze up in the Laptev Sea could be partly a result of ocean heating from the extended period of open water this past spring and summer. However, slow freeze up in this region in recent years is also consistent with observations of eddies within the Arctic Circumpolar Boundary Current that maintain a generally upward ocean heat flux, bringing warm Atlantic water along the eastern Arctic continental slope. The Arctic Circumpolar Boundary Current is a shallow, 200- to 400-meter-deep (660 to 1,300 feet) eastward-flowing current that follows the edge of the continental shelf and carries warm water at 2 to 3 degrees Celsius (36 to 37 degrees Fahrenheit) in shallow depths around the Arctic Ocean. The configuration of the continental shelf in the Russian Arctic brings this water very near the coastal Laptev Sea.

At the end of the month, extent remained below average in the Chukchi Sea on the Pacific side of the Arctic, and also in the Barents and Kara Seas on the Atlantic side.

Conditions in context

Figure 2a. This plot shows the departure from average air temperature in the Arctic at the 925 hPa level, in degrees Celsius, for October 2022. Yellows and reds indicate higher than average temperatures; blues and purples indicate lower than average temperatures. || Credit: NSIDC courtesy NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory Physical Sciences Laboratory|High-resolution image

Figure 2a. This plot shows the departure from average air temperature in the Arctic at the 925 hPa level, in degrees Celsius, for October 2022. Yellows and reds indicate higher than average temperatures; blues and purples indicate lower than average temperatures.

Credit: NSIDC courtesy NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory Physical Sciences Laboratory
High-resolution image

Figure 2b. This plot shows average sea level pressure in the Arctic in millibars for October 2022. Yellows and reds indicate high air pressure; blues and purples indicate low pressure. ||Credit: NSIDC courtesy NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory Physical Sciences Laboratory|High-resolution image

Figure 2b. This plot shows average sea level pressure in the Arctic in millibars for October 2022. Yellows and reds indicate high air pressure; blues and purples indicate low pressure.

Credit: NSIDC courtesy NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory Physical Sciences Laboratory
High-resolution image

Air temperatures during October at the 925 millibar level (approximately 2,500 feet above the surface) were near to above average over most of the Arctic Ocean (Figure 2a). The largest departures from average for this time of year were over the Kara Sea, where air temperatures averaged for October remained above freezing.

The average atmospheric circulation pattern was dominated by below average sea level pressure over nearly the entire Arctic (Figure 2b). Pressures were as much as 10 to 12 millibars below average over the Chukchi and East Siberian Seas and stretching across the pole. This pattern is reflected in the persistence of positive values of the Arctic Oscillation Index for most of the month. When the Arctic Oscillation is in its positive mode, pressures are below average over the Arctic, but above average over the Northern Hemisphere mid latitudes.

October 2022 compared to previous years

Figure 3. Monthly October ice extent for 1979 to 2022 shows a decline of 9.6 percent per decade.||Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center| High-resolution image

Figure 3. Monthly October ice extent for 1979 to 2022 shows a decline of 9.6 percent per decade.

Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
High-resolution image

The downward linear trend in October sea ice extent over the 45-year satellite record is 80,400 square kilometers (31,000 square miles) per year, or 9.6 percent per decade relative to the 1981 to 2010 average. Based on the linear trend, since 1979 October has lost 3.46 million square kilometers (1.34 million square miles). This equivalent to about twice the size of the state of Alaska.

Arctic sea ice loss may make El Niños more common

Figure 4. These plots show histograms of El Niño indices associated with Arctic sea ice loss experiments in climate model runs. (a) shows the zonal sea surface temperature (SST) gradient in the equatorial Pacific that is defined as the average SST over the Niño 3.4 region (5S-5N, 170W-120W) minus the Maritime Continent region (5S-5N, 110E-160E). (b) shows the meridional SST gradient in the eastern equatorial Pacific that is defined as the average SST over 5N-10N, 160W-100W minus 2.5S-2.5N, 160W-100W. The vertical bars denote 20-year periods of constant Arctic sea ice in experiments using the NCAR Community Earth System Model (CESM). Gray is the historical period (1980 to 1999); blue is the future period of moderate ice loss (2020 to 2039); and red is the future period of seasonally ice-free conditions (2080 to 2099). Each bin represents 0.5 standard deviation of the corresponding SST anomalies or gradients. Black dashed lines represent 1.5 (strong El Niño) and 2 (extremely strong El Niño) standard deviations. ||Credit: Dr. Jiping Liu, adapted by NSIDC |High-resolution image

Figure 4. These plots show histograms of El Niño indices associated with Arctic sea ice loss experiments in climate model runs. The left histogram (a) shows the zonal sea surface temperature (SST) gradient in the equatorial Pacific that is defined as the average SST over the Niño 3.4 region (5S-5N, 170W-120W) minus the Maritime Continent region (5S-5N, 110E-160E). The histogram on the right (b) shows the meridional SST gradient in the eastern equatorial Pacific that is defined as the average SST over 5N-10N, 160W-100W minus 2.5S-2.5N, 160W-100W. The vertical bars denote 20-year periods of constant Arctic sea ice in experiments using the US National Center for Atmospheric Research Community Earth System Model (CESM). Gray is the historical period (1980 to 1999); blue is the future period of moderate ice loss (2020 to 2039); and red is the future period of seasonally ice-free conditions (2080 to 2099). Each bin represents 0.5 standard deviation of the corresponding SST anomalies or gradients. Black dashed lines represent 1.5 (strong El Niño) and 2 (extremely strong El Niño) standard deviations.

Credit: Jiping Liu et al. 2022, adapted by NSIDC
High-resolution image

El Niño is an important departure in ocean temperatures along the equator, linked to weakened trade winds. During an El Niño, the cold upwelled waters along the coast of the Americas and much of the eastern parts of the tropical Pacific are replaced by warmer water. This can have global impacts on weather, ecosystems, and economies around the world by shifting the Pacific jet stream southwards. In North America, this usually results in drier and warmer conditions than usual in the northern areas, and wetter conditions in the south. While episodes of El Niño typically occur every two to seven years and can last several months to more than a year, climate model simulations by colleagues at the University of Albany suggest that the frequency of El Niño events could increase by 35 percent by the end of this century if the Arctic Ocean loses its summer ice cover.

This link was found to result from increased heat transfer from the ocean to the atmosphere in the absence of sea ice, intensifying low-pressure systems in the Bering Sea (in the area of the Aleutian Low). Lower sea level pressure increases wind speeds that may oppose trade winds, bringing warm western Pacific water towards the east. Another possible mechanism is that as the Arctic Ocean warms from losing its sea ice cover, ocean currents weaken from the south that bring warm water from the eastern Pacific toward the Arctic. Analysis with other climate models is necessary to test the robustness of these connections.

The Antarctic

Figure 5. The graph above shows Antarctic sea ice extent as of November 2, 2022, along with daily ice extent data for four previous years and the record low year. 2022 is shown in blue, 2021 in green, 2020 in orange, 2019 in brown, 2018 in magenta, and 2012 in dashed brown. The 1981 to 2010 median is in dark gray. The gray areas around the median line show the interquartile and interdecile ranges of the data. Sea Ice Index data.||Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center|High-resolution image

Figure 5. The graph above shows Antarctic sea ice extent as of November 2, 2022, along with daily ice extent data for four previous years and the record high year. 2022 is shown in blue, 2021 in green, 2020 in orange, 2019 in brown, 2018 in magenta, and 2012 in dashed brown. The 1981 to 2010 median is in dark gray. The gray areas around the median line show the interquartile and interdecile ranges of the data. Sea Ice Index data.

Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
High-resolution image

The seasonal Southern Ocean sea ice maximum extent was reached on September 16, at 18.19 million square kilometers (7.02 million square miles). This was the fourth lowest sea ice maximum in the satellite record, behind 1986, 2002, and 2017. Low sea ice extent has continued to persist, and the springtime decline in austral ice extent has proceeded at an above average pace. At month’s end, Antarctic sea ice was nearing record-low daily ice extents for the date.

Extent is far below average in the Bellingshausen Sea, and far above average in the Amundsen and eastern Ross Seas, a pattern indicative of a strong Amundsen Sea Low. Sea level pressures in the region have been 8 to 12 millibars below average. However, sea ice extent is also low along the Wilkes Land coast, where air temperatures have been 1 to 4 degrees Celsius (2 to 7 degrees Fahrenheit) above average.

Further reading

Aksenov, Y., V. V. Ivanov, A. G. Nurser, S. Bacon, I. V. Polyakov, A. C. Coward, A. C. Naveira‐Garabato, and A. Beszczynska-Moeller. 2011. The Arctic circumpolar boundary current. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans. doi:10.1029/2010JC006637.

Liu, J., M. Song, Z. Zhu, et al. 2022. Arctic sea-ice loss is projected to lead to more frequent strong El Niño eventsNature Communications. doi:10.1038/s41467-022-32705-2.

Pnyushkov, A., I. V. Polyakov, L. Padman, and A. T. Nguyen. 2018. Structure and dynamics of mesoscale eddies over the Laptev Sea continental slope in the Arctic Ocean. Ocean Science. doi:10.5194/os-14-1329-2018.

 

Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone

After reaching the minimum on September 18, Arctic sea ice extent has been steadily increasing. With the passage of the equinox, the sun has set at the North Pole. September average ice extent ended up tying with 2010 for eleventh lowest in the satellite record.

Overview of conditions

Arctic sea ice extent for september 2022

Figure 1a. Arctic sea ice extent for September 2022 was 4.87 million square kilometers (1.88 million square miles). The magenta line shows the 1981 to 2010 average extent for that month. Sea Ice Index data. About the data

Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
High-resolution image

sea ice extent for multiple years

Figure 1b. The graph above shows Arctic sea ice extent as of October 3, 2022, along with daily ice extent data for four previous years and the record low year. 2022 is shown in blue, 2021 in green, 2020 in orange, 2019 in brown, 2018 in magenta, and 2012 in dashed brown. The 1981 to 2010 median is in dark gray. The gray areas around the median line show the interquartile and interdecile ranges of the data. Sea Ice Index data.

Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
High-resolution image

The September 2022 average Arctic sea ice extent was 4.87 million square kilometers (1.88 million square miles), tying with 2010 for eleventh lowest in the satellite record (Figure 1a). Extent was 1.54 million square kilometers (595,000 square miles) below the 1981 to 2010 average and 1.30 million square kilometers (502,000 square miles) above the record minimum set in 2012. The annual minimum extent was reached on September 18 and the autumn freeze-up is now well underway.

Ice extent declined at a faster than average rate from the beginning of the month until the minimum was reached on September 18 (Figure 1b). This resulted in a tie for the tenth lowest minimum daily extent in the satellite record. Extent was below average in all sectors of the Arctic Ocean, apart from the northern shore of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, where ice is almost invariably pushed up against the coast by winds and ocean currents. A tongue of ice continued to extend southward in the East Siberian Sea, and a portion of ice floes broke away from the main pack ice off the tip of that tongue. An open water passage has nevertheless persisted along the Northern Sea Route. The Northwest Passage has started to freeze up, particularly the northern route through Parry Channel, but much of the Canadian Archipelago remained essentially ice free through the end of the month.

Conditions in context

Figure 2X. This plot shows the departure from average air temperature in the Arctic at the 925 hPa level, in degrees Celsius, for XXXmonthXX 20XX. Yellows and reds indicate higher than average temperatures; blues and purples indicate lower than average temperatures.||Credit: NSIDC courtesy NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory Physical Sciences Laboratory| High-resolution image

Figure 2a. This plot shows the departure from average air temperature in the Arctic at the 925 hPa level, in degrees Celsius, for September 2022. Yellows and reds indicate higher than average temperatures; blues and purples indicate lower than average temperatures.

Credit: NSIDC courtesy NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory Physical Sciences Laboratory
High-resolution image

Average Sea Level Pressure for September 2022

Figure 2b. This plot shows average sea level pressure in the Arctic in millibars for September 2022. Yellows and reds indicate high air pressure; blues and purples indicate low pressure.

Credit: NSIDC courtesy NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory Physical Sciences Laboratory
High-resolution image

Air temperatures during September at the 925 millibar level (approximately 2,500 feet above the surface) were above average over the North American side of the Arctic and near average or below average over most of the Eurasian side (Figure 2a). Averaged sea level pressure for September featured low pressure extending across Eurasia, Alaska, and the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, with high pressure over the central Arctic Ocean, notably north of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago (Figure 2b). The low pressure over Alaska reflects the passage of an extremely strong storm during the middle of the month that caused extensive damage and flooding to the town of Nome and surrounding areas.

September 2022 compared to previous years

linear rate of decline

Figure 3. Monthly September ice extent for 1979 to 2022 shows a decline of 12.3 percent per decade.

Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
High-resolution image

The downward linear trend in September sea ice extent over the 44-year satellite record is 79,100 square kilometers (30,500 square miles) per year, or 12.3 percent per decade relative to the 1981 to 2010 average. Based on the linear trend, since 1979, September has lost 3.59 million square kilometers (1.39 million square miles). This is equivalent to about twice the size of Alaska.

Summer 2022 in review

Figure 2X. This plot shows the departure from average air temperature in the Arctic at the 925 hPa level, in degrees Celsius, for XXXmonthXX 20XX. Yellows and reds indicate higher than average temperatures; blues and purples indicate lower than average temperatures.||Credit: NSIDC courtesy NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory Physical Sciences Laboratory| High-resolution image

Figure 4a. This plot shows the departure from average air temperature in the Arctic at the 925 hPa level, in degrees Celsius, from June to August 2022. Yellows and reds indicate higher than average temperatures; blues and purples indicate lower than average temperatures.

Credit: NSIDC courtesy NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory Physical Sciences Laboratory
High-resolution image

Average sea level pressure during 2022 melt season

Figure 4b. This plot shows average sea level pressure in the Arctic in millibars from June to August 2022. Yellows and reds indicate high air pressure; blues and purples indicate low pressure.

Credit: NSIDC courtesy NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory Physical Sciences Laboratory
High-resolution image

Sea ice age at the end of summer for (a) 1985 and (b) 2022. Sea ice age extent for multiyear ice (black line) and 4+ year-old ice (red line) for the Arctic Ocean region (inset, purple). From Tschudi et al., 2019a,b (doi: 10.5067/UTAV7490FEPB and doi: 10.5067/2XXGZY3DUGNQ).

Figure 4c. The upper left map shows ice age distribution toward the end of the melt season for 1985. The upper right map shows the end of the 2022 melt season. The bottom graphs shows sea ice age extent for multiyear ice, as depicted by the black line, and 4+ year-old ice, as depicted by the red line, for the Arctic Ocean region. The inset identifies the region of interest. Note the ice age product does not include ice in the Canadian Archipelago.

Credit: Tschudi et al., 2019
High-resolution image

annual extent of multiyear ice from 1985 to 2022

Figure 4d. This graph shows the annual change of multiyear and 4+ year-old ice over the summer melt season (mid-March to the September minimum) for 1985 to 2022. The black line depicts multiyear ice; the red line depicts 4+ year-old ice.

Credit: Tschudi et al., 2019
High-resolution image

Figure 4d. Weekly sea ice extent in the Parry Channel (red highlighted region in inset) based on Canadian Ice Service analyses for last four years (2019-2022), the record low year (2011) and the 1991-2020 average. Image by Steve Howell of Environment and Climate Change Canada. ||Credit: |High-resolution image

Figure 4e. This graph shows weekly sea ice extent in the Parry Channel, the red highlighted region in inset, based on Canadian Ice Service analyses for last four years, 2019 to 2022, the 2011 record low year, and the 1991 to 2020 average.

Credit: Steve Howell, Environment and Climate Change Canada
High-resolution image

This animation of the 2022 seasonal ice retreat is based on satellite data. The animation has one image per week from May 2 to August 1, and then every second day through August, and every day in September to September 18, the seasonal ice minimum. ||Credit: Michon Scott, NSIDC

Figure 4f. Clink on this animation to view the 2022 seasonal ice retreat. Images are from sea ice concentration data from NSIDC’s Sea Ice Index. The timeline is not uniform. The animation shows one image per week from May 2 to August 1, and then every other day through August, and every day in September until September 18, the seasonal ice minimum.

Credit: Michon Scott, NSIDC
High-resolution image

The summer 2022 melt season had some noteworthy highlights. Extent loss was less extreme than recent years through much of the summer; for the first time since 2014, extent briefly sat within the 1981 to 2010 lower interdecile range. However, late season ice loss was strong, pushing the September average to eleventh lowest in the passive microwave satellite record. No region of the Arctic was extreme in terms of how far north the ice edge retreated, though compared to average conditions, the ice edge was quite far north in the Laptev and Chukchi Seas. Surface melt onset was also variable, with earlier-than-average melt along the Siberian coast, particularly in the Kara and Barents Seas, but later-than-average melt in much of the central Arctic Ocean.

Air temperatures at the 925 millibar level (about 2,500 feet above sea level) were above average over much of the Arctic Ocean, but not as extreme as in many recent summers. Much of the Arctic Ocean experienced summer (June, July, August) temperatures 1 to 3 degrees Celsius (2 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit) above average (Figure 4a). Only in parts of the Barents Sea did 2022 summer air temperatures reach up to 4 degrees Celsius (7 degrees Fahrenheit) above average. In the southern Chukchi and northern Bering Seas, temperatures were 1 degree Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit) below average.

During June through August, average sea level pressure was low over much of the Siberian side of the Arctic, as well as over eastern Canada, and east of Greenland, with a small and weak Beaufort Sea High that primarily manifested itself in June (Figure 4b). Summer-averaged pressure gradients were slack, particularly in July and August, albeit with intermittent stronger gradients caused by passing weather systems. Weak pressure gradients resulted in relatively weak surface winds and sea ice circulation through much of the summer.

Of particular note was the formation of polynyas north of the Kara Sea, at about 87 degrees North latitude. These started to form in early July and were observed intermittently through the end of August. These unusual polynyas likely opened at least in part because of divergent ice motion, but their formation and general persistence is also an indication of thin, young, and uncompacted ice. It is also possible that deep ocean waters were churned toward the surface as currents flowed over the Lomonosov Ridge beneath some of the polynya areas.

The distribution of sea ice age at the end of summer 2022 shows a dominance of first and second-year ice (Figure 4c). Some of this second-year ice extends south into the East Siberian Sea and is one reason why the Northern Sea Route maintained ice until later in the summer. A thin ribbon of old ice (3 to 4 and 4+ years age) extends along the northern shore of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. The summertime loss of the multiyear ice has generally increased since the mid 1980s, but with large variations from one summer to the next (Figure 4d). The 4+ year-old ice shows less summertime change, especially since 2012, because so little of that ice remains in the Arctic. The most notable feature in both ice age classes is the large spike in loss during the 2007 summer.

The evolution of sea ice concentration during the 2022 melt season is presented in an animation, which begins on May 2 and ends at the sea ice minimum on September 18 (Figure 4f). Rapid early loss is noticeable in the Kara Sea with large retreats also occurring in the Laptev and Beaufort Seas. By August, a tongue of somewhat older and thicker ice is left behind in the East Siberian Sea. Retreat was generally ahead of the average date for ice extent through the summer. Also shown is the unusually persistent low sea ice concentration in the high Arctic north of the Severnaya Zemlaya islands, eventually leading to the opening of two high-latitude polynyas in late August into early September. Melt events are shown as brief drops in concentration, but the regions around the polynyas remained low throughout the second half of the summer.

The Northwest Passage (NWP)—a shortcut between Europe and Asia through the channels of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago—was the dream of explorers and financiers for centuries. The southern NWP route was first navigated by Roald Amundsen over three summers, 1905 to 1908. In recent years, his circuitous route, winding through narrow and shallow channels, has often opened for at least part of the summer. However, even in recent years, the more direct northern route through Parry Channel, with wide and deep channels more suitable for shipping, has remained choked with ice. This is partly because of an influx of thick, multiyear ice into the channel from the Arctic Ocean to the north. This year the northern route largely opened. While operational analysis showed the region with 10 to 80 percent ice cover, high resolution maps of the ice cover, indicated a continuous path through open water starting in late August until mid-September. Overall, the ice area in the northern route reached the fourth lowest in the 55-year record of Canadian Arctic sea ice conditions analyzed by the Canadian Ice Service; the NWP information was provided by Steve Howell of Environment and Climate Change Canada (Figure 4e).

Top ten lowest sea ice extents in northern route of the Northwest Passage

Table 1.Top Ten Lowest Sea Ice Extents in Northern Route of the Northwest Passage (NWP) 1967 to 2022
Rank Year Sea Ice Area (km2) Date
1 2011 7,506 2011-09-19
2 2015 12,695 2015-09-14
3 2012 14,613 2012-10-01
4 2022 18,050 2022-09-12
5 2010 18,583 2010-09-06
6 2008 28,745 2008-09-08
7 1998 33,663 1998-09-28
8 1999 36,608 1999-09-13
9 2007 36,703 2007-09-10
10 2016 44,936 2016-08-22

The view down south

Antarctic sea ice extent for multiple years

Figure 5. The graph above shows Antarctic sea ice extent as of October 3, 2022, along with daily ice extent data for four previous years and the record high year. 2022 is shown in blue, 2021 in green, 2020 in orange, 2019 in brown, 2018 in magenta, and 2014 in dashed brown. The 1981 to 2010 median is in dark gray. The gray areas around the median line show the interquartile and interdecile ranges of the data. Sea Ice Index data.

Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
High-resolution image

As the Arctic makes its journey into autumn, Antarctic sea ice extent is nearing its winter maximum. On September 16, extent stood at 18.19 million square kilometers (7.02 million square miles), which may represent the seasonal maximum. However, extent may yet rise above that value. After record and near-record low extent earlier in the year, late ice growth increased the extent within the inter-decile range by mid-September.

Antarctic sea ice extent has exhibited extreme interannual variability with record highs and record lows within the past decade. There is also strong regional variability, with some areas showing long-term trends of ice loss, with others showing gains. One region with a notable downward trend in extent is the Bellingshausen Sea, west of the Antarctic Peninsula. The Peninsula region has also experienced a strong multi-decade warming trend, which has resumed after a decade-long hiatus. One factor in these changes is a strengthening of the Amundsen Low the brings southward winds to the region, which raise air temperatures and compact the ice. A new study by Dalaiden et al. suggests that this Amundsen Low strengthening is caused by an anthropogenic forcing, and a coupling to the general temperature pattern and trends in the Pacific Ocean.

Update

On October 5, 2022, the Arctic Sea Ice News & Analysis team decided to add the animation of sea ice loss through the melt season and corresponding text (Figure 4f).

References

Dalaiden, Q., A. P. Schurer, M. C. Kirchmeier-Young, H. Goosse, and G. C. Hegerl, G. 2022. West Antarctic surface climate changes since the mid-20th century driven by anthropogenic forcing. Geophysical Research Letters, 49, e2022GL099543. doi:10.1029/2022GL099543.

Tschudi, M., W. N. Meier, J. S. Stewart, C. Fowler, and J. Maslanik. 2019. EASE-Grid Sea Ice Age, Version 4 [Data Set]. Boulder, Colorado USA. NASA National Snow and Ice Data Center Distributed Active Archive Center. doi:0.5067/UTAV7490FEPB. Date Accessed 10-04-2022.

Tschudi, M., W. N. Meier, and J. S. Stewart. 2019. Quicklook Arctic Weekly EASE-Grid Sea Ice Age, Version 1 [Data Set]. Boulder, Colorado USA. NASA National Snow and Ice Data Center Distributed Active Archive Center. doi:10.5067/2XXGZY3DUGNQ. Date Accessed 10-04-2022.

Arctic sea ice minimum ties for tenth lowest

On September 18, Arctic sea ice likely reached its annual minimum extent of 4.67 million square kilometers (1.80 million square miles). The 2022 minimum is tied for tenth lowest in the nearly 44-year satellite record, with 2018 and 2017. The last 16 years, from 2007 to 2022, are the lowest 16 sea ice extents in the satellite record.

In the Antarctic, sea ice extent has hit record lows through most of the growth season. Starting in early August, sea ice began expanding rapidly, exemplifying the strong degree of variability in Southern Hemisphere sea ice. As such it is too early to assume that the maximum has been reached as storms may still expand or compact the extended ice edge. The maximum for Antarctic sea ice typically occurs in late September or early October.

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

Arctic sea ice extent on September 18, 2022

Figure 1. Arctic sea ice extent for September 18, 2022, was 4.67 million square kilometers (1.80 million square miles). The orange line shows the 1981 to 2010 average extent for that day. Sea Ice Index data. About the data

Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
High-resolution image

On September 18, sea ice reached its annual minimum extent of 4.67 million square kilometers (1.80 million square miles) (Figure 1), tying for tenth lowest with 2018 and 2017. In response to the setting sun and falling temperatures, ice extent has begun expanding and will continue 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 four 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

Arctic sea ice extent graph with multiple years for comparison

Figure 2. The graph above shows Arctic sea ice extent on September 18, 2022, along with several other recent years and the record minimum set in 2012. 2022 is shown in blue, 2021 in green, 2020 in orange, 2019 in brown, 2018 in magenta, and 2012 in dashed brown. The 1981 to 2010 median is in dark gray. The gray areas around the median line show the interquartile and interdecile ranges of the data. Sea Ice Index data.

Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
High-resolution image

This year’s minimum set on September 18 was 1.28 million square kilometers (494,000 square miles) above the satellite-era record minimum extent of 3.39 million square kilometers (1.31 million square miles), which occurred on September 17, 2012 (Figure 2). It is also 1.55 million square kilometers (598,000 square miles) below the 1981 to 2010 average minimum extent, which is equivalent to twice the size of Texas.

In the 44-year-satellite record, 16 of the lowest minimums have all occurred in the last 16 years.

The overall, downward trend in the minimum extent from 1979 to 2022 is 12.6 percent per decade relative to the 1981 to 2010 average. The loss of sea ice is about 78,500 square kilometers (30,300 square miles) per year, equivalent to losing the size of the state of South Carolina or the country of Austria annually.

Sixteen lowest minimum Arctic sea ice extents (satellite record, 1979 to present)

Table 1. Sixteen 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
1 2012 3.39 1.31 Sept. 17
2 2020 3.82 1.47 Sept. 16
3 2007
2016
2019
4.16
4.17
4.19
1.61
1.61
1.62
Sept. 18
Sept. 10
Sept. 18
6 2011 4.34 1.68 Sept. 11
7 2015 4.43 1.71 Sept. 9
8 2008
2010
4.59
4.62
1.77
1.78
Sept. 19
Sept. 21
10 2018
2017
2022
4.66
4.67
4.67
1.80
1.80
1.80
Sept. 23
Sept. 13
Sept. 18
13 2021 4.77 1.84 Sept. 16
14 2014
2013
5.03
5.05
1.94
1.95
Sept. 17
Sept. 13
16 2009 5.12 1.98 Sept. 13

Values within 40,000 square kilometers (15,000 square miles) are considered tied. The 2021 value has changed from 4.72 to 4.77 million square kilometers (1.84 million square miles) when final analysis data updated near-real-time data. 

Further reading

NASA visualization of 2022 Arctic sea ice minimum extent

The sun sets on the melt season

The sun is about to set for the winter at the North Pole, and so the 2022 sea ice melt season is coming to an end. As of September 19, 2022, Arctic sea ice extent stood at 4.68 million square kilometers (1.81 million square miles), placing it ninth lowest in the satellite record for the date. The high-latitude polynyas have frozen over.

Overview of conditions

Figure 1. Arctic sea ice extent for September 19, 2022 was 4.68 million square kilometers (1.81 million square miles). The orange line shows the 1981 to 2010 average extent for that day. Sea Ice Index data. About the data||Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center|High-resolution image

Figure 1. Arctic sea ice extent for September 19, 2022 was 4.68 million square kilometers (1.81 million square miles). The orange line shows the 1981 to 2010 average extent for that day. Sea Ice Index data. About the data

Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
High-resolution image

As of September 19, 2022, Arctic sea ice extent stood at 4.68 million square kilometers (1.81 million square miles), placing it ninth lowest in the satellite record for the date. Between September 1 and September 19, the Arctic lost a total of 522,000 square kilometers (202,000 square miles) of ice, at an average rate of 27,500 square kilometers (10,600 square miles) per day. This was slightly faster than the average daily loss rate over this period. As of September 19, sea ice extent was tracking close to the levels observed in 2010, and the spatial pattern of sea ice extent is similar. As seen in Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer 2 (AMSR2) imagery, an island, or patch, of apparently fairly thick ice has separated from the main pack in the East Siberian Sea. Another smaller isolated patch is present in the Beaufort Sea. The Northern Sea Route and the southern (Amundsen’s) route through the Northwest Passage remain open and will likely remain so for several more weeks. The northern route through the Northwest Passage still has some scattered areas of pack ice not picked up in satellite passive microwave imagery.

Conditions in context

Figure 2a. The graph above shows Arctic sea ice extent as of September 19, 2022, along with daily ice extent data for four previous years and the record low year. 2022 is shown in blue, 2021 in green, 2020 in orange, 2019 in brown, 2018 in magenta, and 2012 in dashed brown. The 1981 to 2010 median is in dark gray. The gray areas around the median line show the interquartile and interdecile ranges of the data. Sea Ice Index data.||Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center|High-resolution image

Figure 2a. The graph above shows Arctic sea ice extent as of September 19, 2022, along with daily ice extent data for four previous years and the record low year. 2022 is shown in blue, 2021 in green, 2020 in orange, 2019 in brown, 2018 in magenta, and 2012 in dashed brown. The 1981 to 2010 median is in dark gray. The gray areas around the median line show the interquartile and interdecile ranges of the data. Sea Ice Index data.

Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
High-resolution image

Figure 2b. This plot shows the departure from average air temperature in the Arctic at the 925 hPa level, in degrees Celsius, from September 1 to 18, 2022. Yellows and reds indicate higher than average temperatures; blues and purples indicate lower than average temperatures.||Credit: NSIDC courtesy NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory Physical Sciences Laboratory |High-resolution image

Figure 2b. This plot shows the departure from average air temperature in the Arctic at the 925 hPa level, in degrees Celsius, from September 1 to 18, 2022. Yellows and reds indicate higher than average temperatures; blues and purples indicate lower than average temperatures.

Credit: NSIDC courtesy NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory Physical Sciences Laboratory
High-resolution image

Figure 2c. This plot shows average sea level pressure in the Arctic in millibars from September 1 to 18, 2022. Yellows and reds indicate high air pressure; blues and purples indicate low pressure. ||Credit: NSIDC courtesy NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory Physical Sciences Laboratory |High-resolution image

Figure 2c. This plot shows average sea level pressure in the Arctic in millibars from September 1 to 18, 2022. Yellows and reds indicate high air pressure; blues and purples indicate low pressure.

Credit: NSIDC courtesy NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory Physical Sciences Laboratory
High-resolution image

Air temperatures over the central Arctic Ocean at the 925 hPa level (about 2,500 feet above the surface), averaged from September 1 through September 18 were from 1 to 4 degrees Celsius (2 to 7 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 1991 to 2020 reference period over most of the North American side of the Arctic, but up to 7 degrees Celsius (13 degrees Fahrenheit) above average over the Greenland Ice Sheet (Figure 2b).

The sea level pressure pattern averaged over the same time period (Figure 2c) was dominated by low pressure extending eastward across Eurasia, Alaska, and into eastern Canada, contrasting with high pressure over the remainder of the Arctic, especially west of Scandinavia and over southern Greenland. The low pressure center over eastern Canada, paired with the high pressure over southern Greenland, has been a somewhat persistent pattern in the first half of September. Winds from the south between the pressure centers and the high average temperature over northern Greenland can be related to the prominent early September melt event over the ice sheet (see Greenland Ice Sheet Today).

A surprising observation

Figure 3. While traveling back from Reykjavik, Iceland, in late August, Arctic Sea Ice News & Analysis contributor Mark Serreze observed a patch of sea ice just off the eastern coast of southern Baffin Island. Small, diffuse patches of sea ice can linger through the summer if conditions are favorable, but they are difficult to detect in satellite imagery. ||Credit: Mark Serreze, NSIDC |High-resolution image

Figure 3. While traveling back from Reykjavik, Iceland, in late August, Arctic Sea Ice News & Analysis contributor Mark Serreze observed a patch of sea ice just off the eastern coast of southern Baffin Island. Small, diffuse patches of sea ice can linger through the summer if conditions are favorable, but they are difficult to detect in satellite imagery.

Credit: Mark Serreze, NSIDC
High-resolution image

While traveling back from the International Glaciological Society International Symposium on Ice, Snow and Water in a Warming World in Reykjavik, Iceland, in late August, Arctic Sea Ice News & Analysis contributor Mark Serreze, while looking for icebergs on the blue ocean out the window of the Iceland Air 757, observed a rather surprising patch of sea ice just off the eastern coast of southern Baffin Island. Such small, diffuse patches—the last remnants of the winter ice pack—can linger through the summer if conditions are favorable, but they are very difficult to detect in satellite imagery.

Arctic sea ice thickness study

sea ice thickness over time in Arctic

Figure 4. This animation shows Arctic sea ice thickness from October 2010 to July 2020. Images are from the European Space Agency’s CryoSat-2, which for the first time include summer sea ice thickness.

Credit: Jack Landy
High-resolution image

 

A new year-round Arctic sea ice thickness dataset based on observations from the European Space Agency CryoSat-2 mission was released this week. Meltwater ponds accumulating at the ice surface previously prevented researchers from generating valid sea ice thickness data from CryoSat-2 during the summer melt season. Only estimates of sea ice thickness during the Arctic winter growth season were available.

New methods, including deep machine learning and model simulations of the satellite radar altimeter, have now enabled accurate measurements of the sea ice freeboard— the height of the ice above the ocean surface—to be obtained from the archive of CryoSat-2 Arctic summer observations dating back to 2011 (Figure 4, to animate). By accounting for snow that weighs down the sea ice, using data from a snow evolution model available at the NASA National Snow and Ice Data Center Distributed Active Archive Center, the ice freeboards for winter and summer months were converted to a 10-year gap-free sea ice thickness record.

In the study, it was discovered that new CryoSat-2 sea ice thickness observations from the early summer, in May and June, correlate closely with the pan-Arctic sea ice extent in the following September. Through the ice-albedo feedback, the thickness of sea ice floes at the start of the melt season dictate how long they survive during summer. Thick ice floes melt less quickly and can survive for longer, whereas thin ice floes melt away, exposing the darker ocean and accelerating further melt. This demonstrates a strong link between spring sea ice thickness and the end-of-summer sea ice extent.

Antarctic recovery

Figure 5. Antarctic sea ice extent for September 19, 2022 was 18.14 million square kilometers (7.00 million square miles). The orange line shows the 1981 to 2010 average extent for that day. Sea Ice Index data. About the data||Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center|High-resolution image

Figure 5. Antarctic sea ice extent for September 19, 2022 was 18.14 million square kilometers (7.00 million square miles). The orange line shows the 1981 to 2010 average extent for that day. Sea Ice Index data. About the data

Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
High-resolution image

Antarctic sea extent is nearing it seasonal maximum. While extent was tracking at record or near record lows since early June, there has been a recent spurt in growth, and extent has reached the tenth percentile for this time of year, still well below average but no longer near the record lowest maximum.

Further reading

Landy, J. C., G. J. Dawson, M. Tsamados, M. Bushuk, J. Stroeve, S. Howell, T. Krumpen, D. Babb, A. Komarov, H. Heorton, H. J. Belter, and Y. Aksenov. 2022. A year-round satellite sea-ice thickness record from CryoSat-2. Nature. doi:10.1038/s41586-022-05058-5.

 

The Arctic’s bald spot

Summer in the Arctic is drawing to a close, and sea ice extent is likely to remain higher than in recent years. Several polynyas have formed poleward of 85 degrees North within the pack as well as areas near the thin ice edge. While some thin ice can still be found in the Northern Sea Route and southern Northwest Passage, both appear to be largely open. The northern deep water Northwest Passage route also appears to be largely open. Antarctic sea ice has remained at record or near-record low extent for the month.

Overview of conditions

Figure 1. Arctic sea ice extent for XXXX 20XX was X.XX million square kilometers (X.XX million square miles). The magenta line shows the 1981 to 2010 average extent for that month. Sea Ice Index data. About the data||Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center|High-resolution image

Figure 1a. Arctic sea ice extent for August 2022 was 5.99 million square kilometers (2.31 million square miles). The magenta line shows the 1981 to 2010 average extent for that month. Sea Ice Index data. About the data

Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
High-resolution image

Arctic sea ice concentration image showing polynyas

Figure 1b. This map shows open water within the ice pack, known as a polynya, poleward of 85 degrees North. Sea ice concentration data are from Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer 2 (AMSR2) imagery.

Credit: University of Bremen
High-resolution image

Average Arctic sea ice extent for August 2022 was 5.99 million square kilometers (2.31 million square miles), ranking thirteenth lowest in the satellite record (Figure 1a) and 1.21 million square kilometers (467,000 square miles) below the 1981 to 2010 average. Ice extent tracked below the interdecile range of the satellite record through the month, and the total ice loss through the month was 1.79 million square kilometers (691,000 square miles). Extent remained particularly low in the Laptev and Chukchi Seas. As seen in the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer 2 (AMSR2) imagery, areas of low concentration ice that started to develop poleward of 85 degrees North in July developed into areas of open water within the pack ice, or polynyas (Figure 1b). These features are much further north than is typical. On the Atlantic side, the ice edge remained north of Svalbard and Franz Josef Land, continuing the pattern seen for most of the season.

The rate of decline for Arctic sea ice extent was near average for most of the month at about 60,000 square kilometers (23,000 square miles) per day, but briefly increased late in the month to near 85,000 square kilometers (33,000 square miles) per day. During the second half of August, ice loss was mostly in the East Siberian Sea and the northern Chukchi Sea.

Conditions in context

Figure 2. The graph above shows Arctic sea ice extent as of XXXXX XX, 20XX, along with daily ice extent data for four previous years and the record low year. 2021 is shown in blue, 2020 in green, 2019 in orange, 2018 in brown, 2017 in magenta, and 2012 in dashed brown. The 1981 to 2010 median is in dark gray. The gray areas around the median line show the interquartile and interdecile ranges of the data. Sea Ice Index data.||Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center|High-resolution image

Figure 2a. The graph above shows Arctic sea ice extent as of September 05, 2022, along with daily ice extent data for four previous years and the record low year. 2022 is shown in blue, 2021 in green, 2020 in orange, 2019 in brown, 2018 in magenta, and 2012 in dashed brown. The 1981 to 2010 median is in dark gray. The gray areas around the median line show the interquartile and interdecile ranges of the data. Sea Ice Index data.

Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
High-resolution image

Figure 2X. This plot shows the departure from average air temperature in the Arctic at the 925 hPa level, in degrees Celsius, for XXXmonthXX 20XX. Yellows and reds indicate higher than average temperatures; blues and purples indicate lower than average temperatures.||Credit: NSIDC courtesy NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory Physical Sciences Laboratory| High-resolution image

Figure 2b. This plot shows the departure from average air temperature in the Arctic at the 925 hPa level, in degrees Celsius, for August 2022. Yellows and reds indicate higher than average temperatures; blues and purples indicate lower than average temperatures.

Credit: NSIDC courtesy NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory Physical Sciences Laboratory
High-resolution image

Figure 2X. This plot shows average sea level pressure in the Arctic in millibars for XXXmonthXX 20XX. Yellows and reds indicate high air pressure; blues and purples indicate low pressure.||Credit: NSIDC courtesy NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory Physical Sciences Laboratory| High-resolution image

Figure 2c. This plot shows average sea level pressure in the Arctic in millibars for August 2022. Yellows and reds indicate high air pressure; blues and purples indicate low pressure.

Credit: NSIDC courtesy NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory Physical Sciences Laboratory
High-resolution image

Air temperatures over the central Arctic Ocean at the 925 hPa level (about 2,500 feet above the surface) were generally 1 to 3 degrees Celsius (2 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit) above 1991 to 2020 reference period (Figure 2b). Conditions in the Barents Sea and southern Kara Sea were particularly warm, ranging up to 4 degrees Celsius (7 degrees Fahrenheit) above average. However, temperatures over the Bering Sea and the Denmark Strait (between Iceland and Greenland) were slightly below average.

The sea level pressure pattern for August favored winds from the south and west toward Europe, and cool air moving out of the Arctic over the Laptev Sea coast in Siberia (Figure 2c). Low air pressure over Alaska led to winds from the north over the Bering Sea, consistent with the below-average temperatures in that area.

While the summer melt season is nearly over, the forecast for early September is for above-average air temperatures over the central Arctic. Coupled with the thin and dispersed sea ice cover, and residual heat in the upper ocean where low sea ice concentration permitted some solar warming earlier in the summer, we may see an expansion of the polynyas near the North Pole for a time in early September.

August 2022 compared to previous years

downward trend of sea ice loss in August in Arctic

Figure 3. Monthly August ice extent for 1979 to 2022 shows a decline of 10.1 percent per decade.

Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
High-resolution image

The downward linear trend in August sea ice extent over the 44-year satellite record is 72,500 square kilometers (28,000 square miles) per year, or 10.1 percent per decade relative to the 1981 to 2010 average. Based on the linear trend, since 1979, August has lost 1.7 million square kilometers (656,000 square miles). This is equivalent to about the size of Alaska.

North by northwest

Northwest Passage route openings

Figure 4. These graphs show sea ice area for the recent summer season in the two most common paths of the Northwest Passage through the Canadian Archipelago. The top graphic shows a time series plot of total sea ice area for 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2011, and the 1991 to 2020 average within the northern route of the Northwest Passage. The lower graphic shows sea ice area for the southern route for the same time period.

Credit: Data from the Canadian Ice Service provided by our colleague Steve Howell of Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC)
High-resolution image

As of the August 27, sea ice area in the northern (deep water) route of the Northwest Passage (NWP) was tracking well below the 1991 to 2020 average (Figure 4, top) but above 2011 record low conditions. High concentrations of multi-year ice were still present in some areas. Ice area in the southern route (Amundsen’s route in 1905) was also tracking well below the 1991 to 2020 average (Figure 4, bottom). The southern route was almost sea ice-free as of late August except for some low concentration first-year ice in the vicinity of Victoria Strait. The northern route of the Northwest Passage is considered to eventually be more viable for shipping. Mudruyk and team discuss the impact of the current warming trend on potential shipping through the Canadian Arctic, noting large increases in navigability of the NWP and other parts of the Arctic with 2 degrees Celsius (4 degrees Fahrenheit) global warming above pre-industrial levels. Even non-ice strengthened vessels may have a 15-day season of operation in the northern NWP according to their study. By contrast, the Northern Sea Route has been nearly free of ice for at least part of August and September for most of the past decade, and it is used increasingly for shipping both within the Russian Arctic and from Arctic ports to the Far East.

Arctic sea surface temperatures

Figure 5. Sea surface temperatures (SSTs) for the Arctic and much of the northern Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, as well as the peripheral seas in the northern hemisphere. Data covers the state of SSTs on 23 August 2022. Extremely warm ocean conditions exist along parts of the Siberian coast, but slightly cooler than average conditions are found in the Bering Sea and Norwegian Sea. Data are from Climate Reanalyzer data center, a part of the Climate Change Institute at the University of Maine.

Figure 5. This map shows sea surface temperatures (SSTs) for the Arctic and much of the northern Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, as well as the peripheral seas in the northern hemisphere. Data shows SSTs on August 23, 2022. Extremely warm ocean conditions exist along parts of the Siberian coast, but cooler than average conditions are found in the Bering Sea and Norwegian Sea.

Credit: Climate Reanalyzer, University of Maine
High-resolution image

According to our colleague, Mike Steele, at the University of Washington Polar Science Center, Pan-Arctic sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in late August are generally above average relative to the 1971 to 2000 reference period (Figure 5). However, Alaskan Arctic SSTs this year are lower than average, likely because the relatively late sea ice retreat limited warming through solar heating. Meanwhile, SSTs on the Russian continental shelf from the eastern Barents Sea to the western East Siberian Sea are far above average. Ice retreat was early there, allowing the upper ocean to warm more strongly through solar heating, with advection of warm air in the southern Barents and Kara Seas (Figure 2 in the August 17 post) perhaps also playing a role.

Reference

Mudryk, L., J. P. Dawson, S. E. L. Howell, C. Derksen, T. Zagon, and M. Brady. 2021. Impact of 1°, 2°, and 4°C of global warming on ship navigation in the Canadian Arctic. Nature Climate Change,11, 673–679, doi:10.1038/s41558-021-01087-6.

Summer’s waning light

As the sun dips lower on the horizon, air temperatures over the central Arctic Ocean are dropping to near freezing conditions. Further retreat of the ice cover will largely depend on ocean temperatures and wind patterns that can either compact the ice or spread it out. In the Antarctic, sea ice extent continues to track at record low values for this time of year.

Overview of conditions

Figure 1. Arctic sea ice extent for XXXX XX, 20XX was X.XX million square kilometers (X.XX million square miles). The orange line shows the 1981 to 2010 average extent for that day. Sea Ice Index data. About the data||Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center|High-resolution image

Figure 1a. Arctic sea ice extent for August 16, 2022 was 6.12 million square kilometers (2.36 million square miles). The orange line shows the 1981 to 2010 average extent for that day. Sea Ice Index data. About the data

Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
High-resolution image

Figure 2. The graph above shows Arctic sea ice extent as of XXXXX XX, 20XX, along with daily ice extent data for four previous years and the record low year. 2021 is shown in blue, 2020 in green, 2019 in orange, 2018 in brown, 2017 in magenta, and 2012 in dashed brown. The 1981 to 2010 median is in dark gray. The gray areas around the median line show the interquartile and interdecile ranges of the data. Sea Ice Index data.||Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center|High-resolution image

Figure 1b. The graph above shows Arctic sea ice extent as of August 16, 2022, along with daily ice extent data for four previous years and the record low year. 2022 is shown in blue, 2021 in green, 2020 in orange, 2019 in brown, 2018 in magenta, and 2012 in dashed brown. The 1981 to 2010 median is in dark gray. The gray areas around the median line show the interquartile and interdecile ranges of the data. Sea Ice Index data.

Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
High-resolution image

Figure 1b. This map shows Arctic sea ice concentration based on data from the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer 2 (AMSR2) data. Yellows indicate sea ice concentration of 75 percent, dark purples indicate sea ice concentration of 100 percent. ||Credit: University of Bremen|High-resolution image

Figure 1c. This map shows Arctic sea ice concentration based on data from the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer-2 (AMSR-2) data. Yellows indicate sea ice concentration of 75 percent, dark purples indicate sea ice concentration of 100 percent.

Credit: University of Bremen
High-resolution image

As of August 16, Arctic sea ice extent stood at 6.11 million square kilometers (2.36 square miles) (Figure 1a). This was similar to the total extent observed in 2008 and 2013 for this time of year, within 80,000 square kilometers (30,900 square miles) and 40,000 square kilometers (15,400 square miles), respectively. Extent was higher than all other years since 2007 except for 2009 and 2014 (Figure 1b). Since the beginning of August, the ice edge has remained relatively stable in the northern Barents and Kara Seas, with most of the ice retreating in the northern Chukchi Sea, the East Siberian Sea northwest of the New Siberian Islands, and within the channels of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Regionally, ice extent remains below the 1981 to 2010 average in the Barents, Kara, and Laptev Seas, and the northern part of the Chukchi Sea. Ice has persisted along the coast in the East Siberian Sea, where winds have pushed some of the multiyear ice against the shore. The southern route of the Northwest Passage through the Canadian Archipelago appears to be mostly free of ice according to sea ice concentrations from the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer-2 (Figure 1c). However, the Canadian Ice Service reports some ice remains within Victoria Strait. For the first time since 2008, the Northern Sea Route along Eurasia may not become ice free.

While sea ice is overall more extensive than in recent summers, the ice pack is diffuse throughout the Beaufort Sea, the northern part of the Chukchi Sea, and within the East Siberian Sea. Polynyas have opened near 80 degrees N, north of the Kara Sea. With summer nearing its end, the surface of the ice in the central Arctic Ocean is beginning to refreeze. Any remaining loss of sea ice will be largely dominated by melting within the marginal ice zone by heat stored in the ocean. Ocean-driven melting can persist for another few weeks. The the regions of low ice concentration may still melt out. Wind patterns may also compact the ice in some regions and spread it out in others.

Conditions in context

Figure 2X. This plot shows the departure from average air temperature in the Arctic at the 925 hPa level, in degrees Celsius, for XXXmonthXX 20XX. Yellows and reds indicate higher than average temperatures; blues and purples indicate lower than average temperatures.||Credit: NSIDC courtesy NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory Physical Sciences Laboratory| High-resolution image

Figure 2. This plot shows the departure from average air temperature in the Arctic at the 925 hPa level, in degrees Celsius, from August 1 to 15, 2022. Yellows and reds indicate higher than average temperatures; blues and purples indicate lower than average temperatures.

Credit: NSIDC courtesy NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory Physical Sciences Laboratory
High-resolution image

During the first half of August, air temperatures at the 925 hPa level (about 2,500 feet above the surface) were modestly above average from the Beaufort Sea across the pole and towards the Kara and Barents Seas (Figure 2). By contrast, temperatures over parts of the East Siberian and Laptev Seas as well as the Bering Sea were slightly below average. While temperatures over the central Arctic Ocean were slightly above average, they are near the freezing point.

Seasonal melt onset a mixed bag

Figure 3. This map shows the date of sea ice melt onset in the Arctic for the 2021 melt season compared to the 1981 to 2010 average. Shades in red depict sea ice melt up to 30 days earlier than average, while shades in blue depict melt up to 30 days later than average. Credit: Walt Meier, NSIDC; data courtesy J. Miller, NASA Goddard High-resolution image

Figure 3. This map shows the date of sea ice melt onset in the Arctic for the 2021 melt season compared to the 1981 to 2010 average. Shades in red depict sea ice melt up to 30 days earlier than average, while shades in blue depict melt up to 30 days later than average.

Credit: Walt Meier, NSIDC; data courtesy J. Miller, NASA Goddard
High-resolution image

Melt onset began nearly a month earlier than the 1981 to 2010 average this year in the Kara and Barents Seas, Northern and Eastern Hudson Bay, and along the coast in the Laptev Sea. In the Bering Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk melt onset was between one and two weeks earlier than average. However, melt onset was later than average over most of the central Arctic Ocean and Baffin Bay. The timing of melt onset plays an important role in the ice-albedo feedback. Early melt onset darkens the surface and reduces its reflectivity, facilitating earlier development of melt ponds and open water areas that absorb more of the sun’s energy, hastening further melt. Early melt onset within the Laptev, Kara, and Barents Seas thus likely fostered faster retreat of the ice cover in those regions. Similarly, late melt onset in Baffin Bay and Davis Strait is consistent with a more extensive ice cover in this region early in the melt season.

Will the extent drop below 5 million square kilometers?

Figure 5. This figure shows Arctic sea ice extent projections for the 2021 minimum using data through August 1, 2021. The projections are based on the average loss rates for the 1981 to 2010 average in red, the 2007 to 2020 average in green, 2012 rates in dotted purple, and 2006 rates in dotted teal. ||Credit: Walt Meier, National Snow and Ice Data Center|High-resolution image

Figure 4. This figure shows Arctic sea ice extent projections for the 2022 minimum using data through August 15, 2022. The solid blue line depicts sea ice extent from May 1 to August 15, 2022. The projections are based on the average loss rates for the 1981 to 2010 average in red, the 2007 to 2021 average in green, 2012 rates in dotted purple, and 2006 rates in dotted teal. 2012 yields the lowest projected minimum, while 2006 yields the highest projected minimum. This figure has been submitted to the 2022 Sea Ice Outlook August report.

Credit: Walt Meier, National Snow and Ice Data Center
High-resolution image

One simple way to estimate how much ice will be left at the end of this summer is to use ice loss rates from previous years and apply them to this year. Starting on August 15 and forecasting 6 weeks into the future suggests a 30 percent chance the total extent this summer may stay above 5 million square kilometers (1.93 million square miles), something that has not happened since 2014. The fastest ice loss rates occurred in 2012, the year which ended up with the record minimum ice extent. With this unlikely trajectory, extent would bottom out at about 4 million square kilometers (1.54 million square miles). We expect that the September minimum ice extent will rank between the seventh and fifteenth lowest this year.

Antarctic sea ice still tracking at record lows

Figure 2. The graph above shows Arctic sea ice extent as of XXXXX XX, 20XX, along with daily ice extent data for four previous years and the record low year. 2021 is shown in blue, 2020 in green, 2019 in orange, 2018 in brown, 2017 in magenta, and 2012 in dashed brown. The 1981 to 2010 median is in dark gray. The gray areas around the median line show the interquartile and interdecile ranges of the data. Sea Ice Index data.||Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center|High-resolution image

Figure 5. The graph above shows Antarctic sea ice extent as of August 16, 2022, along with daily ice extent data for four previous years and the record high year. 2022 is shown in blue, 2021 in green, 2020 in orange, 2019 in brown, 2018 in magenta, and 2014 in dashed brown. The 1981 to 2010 median is in dark gray. The gray areas around the median line show the interquartile and interdecile ranges of the data. Sea Ice Index data.

Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
High-resolution image

As of August 16, Antarctic sea ice extent was tracking below all previous years. At the start of August, it was tracking at second lowest. Ice retreated in the Bellingshausen Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean the first two weeks of August, whereas the ice edge expanded in the Weddell and Ross Seas. In the Bellingshausen Sea, air temperatures at the 925 millibar level have been as much as 7 degrees Celsius (13 degrees Fahrenheit) above average the first two weeks of August, as winds from the north have pushed warmer air and the ice edge towards the Antarctic coast.

Unknowns lie ahead

The seasonal decline in Arctic sea ice extent from mid-July onward has proceeded at a near average pace. Extent is currently well below average, but above that observed for recent years. Extent is particularly low in the Laptev Sea sector, but ice extends to near the shore further east. Depending on weather conditions, the southern route through the Northwest Passage may become open. An area of low concentration ice persists over the central Arctic Ocean, extending to near the North Pole, and Antarctic ice extent is still at a record low.

Overview of conditions

Figure 1a. Arctic sea ice extent for August 1, 2022 was X.XX million square kilometers (X.XX million square miles). The orange line shows the 1981 to 2010 average extent for that day. Sea Ice Index data. About the data||Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center|High-resolution image

Figure 1a. Arctic sea ice extent for August 1, 2022 was 6.99 million square kilometers (2.70 million square miles). The orange line shows the 1981 to 2010 average extent for that day. Sea Ice Index data. About the data

Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
High-resolution image

Figure 1b. The graph above shows Arctic sea ice extent as of August 1, 2022, along with daily ice extent data for four previous years and the record low year. 2021 is shown in blue, 2020 in green, 2019 in orange, 2018 in brown, 2017 in magenta, and 2012 in dashed brown. The 1981 to 2010 median is in dark gray. The gray areas around the median line show the interquartile and interdecile ranges of the data. Sea Ice Index data.||Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center|High-resolution image

Figure 1b. The graph above shows Arctic sea ice extent as of August 1, 2022, along with daily ice extent data for four previous years and the record low year. 2022 is shown in blue, 2021 in green, 2020 in orange, 2019 in brown, 2018 in magenta, and 2012 in dashed brown. The 1981 to 2010 median is in dark gray. The gray areas around the median line show the interquartile and interdecile ranges of the data. Sea Ice Index data.

Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
High-resolution image

Figure 1c. This figure shows ice motion vectors at 62.5-kilometer spatial resolution from July 19 to 21, 2022, based on passive and active microwave satellite data from the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites Ocean and Sea Ice Satellite Application Facilities low-resolution sea ice drift product. ||Credit: European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites Ocean and Sea Ice Satellite Application Facilities |High-resolution image

Figure 1c. This figure shows ice motion vectors at 62.5-kilometer spatial resolution from July 19 to 21, 2022, based on passive and active microwave satellite data from the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites Ocean and Sea Ice Satellite Application Facilities low-resolution sea ice drift product. Strong on-shore ice motion during the third week of July in part explains the persistence of sea ice in the East Siberian Sea. 


Credit: European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites Ocean and Sea Ice Satellite Application Facilities
High-resolution image

As of August 1, Arctic sea ice extent stood at 6.99 million square kilometers (2.70 million square miles) (Figure 1a). The decline rate of the extent through the second half of July was near the 1981 to 2010 average. Extent on August 1, while well below the 1981 to 2010 average, was the highest since 2014 and overall was twelfth lowest in the satellite record (Figure 1b). The average extent for the month of July as a whole was 8.25 million square kilometers (3.19 million square miles), the twelfth lowest in the satellite record.

As previously reported in our mid-July post, a notable aspect of this summer so far is the substantial amount of open water along the Eurasia Coast in the Laptev Sea sector. However, by sharp contrast, ice is extensive further east in the East Siberian Sea, extending to near the shore. Strong on-shore ice motion during the third week of July in part explains the persistence of sea ice in this region (Figure 1c). Extent continues to be below average in the Barents Sea. The area of low concentration ice over the central Arctic Ocean extending to near the pole persists.

While Russia makes use of the Northern Sea route year-round, over the past decade, this coastal route has become nearly or completely ice-free in late summer. Given the extensive ice in the East Siberian Sea, it seems unlikely that this will be the case in 2022. By contrast, as assessed from Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer 2 (AMSR2) satellite data, the southern route through the Northwest Passage, known as Amundsen’s route, may open in the next few weeks, depending on weather conditions.

Conditions in context

Figure 2a. This plot shows average sea level pressure in the Arctic in millibars from July 15 to July 30, 2022. Yellows and reds indicate high air pressure; blues and purples indicate low pressure. ||Credit: NSIDC courtesy NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory Physical Sciences Laboratory|High-resolution image

Figure 2a. This plot shows average sea level pressure in the Arctic in millibars from July 15 to July 30, 2022. Yellows and reds indicate high air pressure; blues and purples indicate low pressure.

Credit: NSIDC courtesy NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory Physical Sciences Laboratory
High-resolution image

Figure 2b. This plot shows the departure from average air temperature, relative to the 1981 to 2020 reference period, in the Arctic at the 925 hPa level, in degrees Celsius, from July 15 to July 30, 2022. Yellows and reds indicate higher than average temperatures; blues and purples indicate lower than average temperatures. ||Credit: NSIDC courtesy NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory Physical Sciences Laboratory|High-resolution image

Figure 2b. This plot shows the departure from average air temperature, relative to the 1981 to 2020 reference period, in the Arctic at the 925 hPa level, in degrees Celsius, from July 15 to July 30, 2022. Yellows and reds indicate higher than average temperatures; blues and purples indicate lower than average temperatures.

Credit: NSIDC courtesy NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory Physical Sciences Laboratory
High-resolution image

The second half of July saw a shift in weather patterns. While the average sea level pressure pattern for the first half of the month featured a distinct area of low pressure centered over the central Arctic Ocean near the North Pole, the pattern for the second half of the month was one of high pressure (an anticyclone) centered north of the Laptev Sea, with low pressure centered near the Bering Strait between eastern Russia and Alaska (Figure 2a). This shift explains both the below average temperatures at the 925 mb level (about 2,500 feet above the surface) over the East Siberian Sea, where the implied winds between the high and low pressures have a component from the north, and the above average temperature north of the Barents Sea, where the implied winds on the eastern side of the anticyclone have an offshore component (Figure 2b).

July 2022 compared to previous years

Figure 3. Monthly July ice extent for 1979 to 2022 shows a decline of 7.2 percent per decade.||Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center| High-resolution image

Figure 3. Monthly July ice extent for 1979 to 2022 shows a decline of 7.2 percent per decade.

Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
High-resolution image

Looking at the month as a whole, July sea ice extent declined by 2.42 million square kilometers (930,000 square miles), or at a rate of 78,100 square kilometers (30,200 square miles) per day, which was near the 1981 to 2010 average. This resulted in the average July extent ranking twelfth lowest in the satellite record. The downward linear trend in July sea ice extent over the 44-year-satellite record is 68,500 square kilometers (26,400 square miles) per year, or 7.2 percent per decade relative to the 1981 to 2010 average (Figure 3).

Antarctic sea ice

Figure 4. Antarctic sea ice extent for August 1, 2022 was X.XX million square kilometers (X.XX million square miles). The orange line shows the 1981 to 2010 average extent for that day. Sea Ice Index data. About the data||Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center|High-resolution image

Figure 4. Antarctic sea ice extent for August 1, 2022 was 15.90 million square kilometers (6.14 million square miles). The orange line shows the 1981 to 2010 average extent for that day. Sea Ice Index data. About the data

Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
High-resolution image

As of this report, Antarctic sea ice extent persists at record low levels, with regional low ice extent along the Weddell Sea at its northern ice edge, much of the East Antarctic coast, and the Bellingshausen Sea. The summer has been marked by a strong Amundsen Sea Low, which tends to drive warmer air from the northwest across the Peninsula and into the northern Weddell Sea. A high pressure tendency over Queen Maud Land is also acting to bring warm air from the north across the eastern end of the Weddell Sea ice cover. Overall, conditions on the continent and adjacent seas are far warmer than is typical, with regions near the Peninsula up to 5 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit) above average for May through July, and temperatures in the Weddell Sea between 3 to 7 degrees Celsius (5 to 13 degrees Fahrenheit) above average. Above average temperatures extend across most of the continent and East Antarctic coast, where conditions are 1 to 4 degrees Celsius (2 to 7 degrees Fahrenheit) above average. Only the northern Ross Sea has significantly below average temperatures, of around 4 degrees Celsius (7 degrees Fahrenheit) below average.

A recent paper by our colleagues John Turner and others from British Antarctic Survey, along with co-authors from India and the U.S., looks at the conditions that led to the record low sea ice extent observed in February of this year. Overall, the authors attribute the low sea ice conditions to a combination of large-scale circulation patterns, including La Niña and a strong Amundsen Sea Low, and the impacts of severe regional storms moving ice away from the coast and into warmer waters and greater sunlight.

Effects of Arctic ozone depletion

Figure 5. This figure shows record low Arctic ozone concentrations observed on March 12, 2020. ||Credit: NASA Goddard Earth Observing System data assimilation system (DAS). |High-resolution image

Figure 5. This figure shows record low Arctic ozone concentrations observed on March 12, 2020.

Credit: NASA Goddard Earth Observing System data assimilation system (DAS).
High-resolution image

While the Antarctic ozone hole that develops in austral spring is well known, stratospheric ozone depletion can also occur in the Arctic, though to a lesser extent. A recent study by Marina Friedel and colleagues, based on both observations and models, finds that springtime stratospheric ozone depletion over the Arctic is consistently followed by surface temperature and precipitation anomalies consistent with a positive Arctic Oscillation, an atmospheric pattern known to have significant impacts on climate conditions over the parts of the Northern Hemisphere as well as the Arctic. The authors argue that this is because ozone depletion leads to a reduction in short-wave radiation absorption, causing persistent negative temperature anomalies in the lower stratosphere and a delayed break up of the stratospheric polar vortex. When the Arctic Oscillation is positive, sea level air pressure is lower than average over the North Pole and higher than average over the mid-latitudes. This pressure pattern helps to keep cold air in the Arctic and favors warmer temperatures over the mid-latitudes. In 2020, Arctic ozone concentrations reached a record low on March 12 of 205 Dobson Units (Figure 5) compared to an average value of 240 Dobson Units for this time of year. At the same time, the Arctic Oscillation index reached a record high positive value. As a result, central and northern Europe were exceptionally warm and dry in spring 2020, whereas wet and cold conditions prevailed in the Arctic.

Further reading

Friedel, M., G. Chiodo, A. Stenke, et al. 2022. Springtime arctic ozone depletion forces northern hemisphere climate anomalies. Nature Geoscience. doi:10.1038/s41561-022-00974-7.

Lavergne, T., S. Eastwood, Z. Teffah, H. Schyberg, and L.-A. Breivik. 2010. Sea ice motion from low resolution satellite sensors: an alternative method and its validation in the ArcticJournal of Geophysical Research. doi:10.1029/2009JC005958.

Turner, J., C. Holmes, T. Caton Harrison, T. Phillips, B. Jena, T. Reeves-Francois, R. Fogt, E. R. Thomas, C. C. Bajish. 2022. Record low Antarctic sea ice cover in February 2022. Geophysical Research Letters. doi:10.1029/2022GL098904.

A mid-summer night’s sea ice

Arctic sea ice extent continued its summer decline. Extent is below average but not as low as in recent summers. In the Antarctic, sea ice extent is currently at record low levels for this time of year.

Overview of conditions

Figure 1. Arctic sea ice extent for XXXX 20XX was X.XX million square kilometers (X.XX million square miles). The magenta line shows the 1981 to 2010 average extent for that month. Sea Ice Index data. About the data||Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center|High-resolution image

Figure 1a. Arctic sea ice extent for July 17, 2022, was 8.42 million square kilometers (3.25 million square miles). The orange line shows the 1981 to 2010 average extent for that day. Sea Ice Index data. About the data

Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
High-resolution image

Figure 2. The graph above shows Arctic sea ice extent as of XXXXX XX, 20XX, along with daily ice extent data for four previous years and the record low year. 2021 is shown in blue, 2020 in green, 2019 in orange, 2018 in brown, 2017 in magenta, and 2012 in dashed brown. The 1981 to 2010 median is in dark gray. The gray areas around the median line show the interquartile and interdecile ranges of the data. Sea Ice Index data.||Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center|High-resolution image

Figure 1b. The graph above shows Arctic sea ice extent as of July 17, 2022, along with daily ice extent data for four previous years and the record low year. 2022 is shown in blue, 2021 in green, 2020 in orange, 2019 in brown, 2018 in magenta, and 2012 in dashed brown. The 1981 to 2010 median is in dark gray. The gray areas around the median line show the interquartile and interdecile ranges of the data. Sea Ice Index data.

Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
High-resolution image

As of the middle of the Arctic summer, on July 17, sea ice extent was 8.42 million square kilometers (3.25 million square miles) (Figure 1a). The decline rate of the extent through the first half of July was near the 1981 to 2010 average. Extent on July 17 was the highest since 2015 and overall was thirteenth lowest in the satellite record (Figure 1b).

The most notable area of ice loss so far is in the Laptev Sea. This is similar to the pattern of the last two years, but much less extreme than observed in 2020 and 2021 when the Laptev Sea ice extent was at or near record low levels in June and July. Extent continues to be below average in the Barents Sea.

Conditions in context

Figure 2b. This plot shows the departure from average air temperature, relative to the 1981 to 2020 reference period, in the Arctic at the 925 hPa level, in degrees Celsius, from July 1 to July 17, 2022. Yellows and reds indicate higher than average temperatures; blues and purples indicate lower than average temperatures.||Credit: NSIDC courtesy NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory Physical Sciences Laboratory| High-resolution image

Figure 2a. This plot shows the departure from average air temperature, relative to the 1981 to 2020 reference period, in the Arctic at the 925 hPa level, in degrees Celsius, from July 1 to July 17, 2022. Yellows and reds indicate higher than average temperatures; blues and purples indicate lower than average temperatures.

Credit: NSIDC courtesy NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory Physical Sciences Laboratory
High-resolution image

Figure 2X. This plot shows average sea level pressure in the Arctic in millibars for XXXmonthXX 20XX. Yellows and reds indicate high air pressure; blues and purples indicate low pressure.||Credit: NSIDC courtesy NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory Physical Sciences Laboratory| High-resolution image

Figure 2b. This plot shows average sea level pressure in the Arctic in millibars from July 1 to July 16, 2022. Yellows and reds indicate high air pressure; blues and purples indicate low pressure.

Credit: NSIDC courtesy NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory Physical Sciences Laboratory
High-resolution image

Figure 2d. This NASA WorldView image from the MODIS sensor shows sea ice conditions in the Canadian Archipelago on July 15, 2022. The left image shows melt ponds over sea ice as seen in light blue-green. The right image shows the low sea ice concentration in the Laptev and Kara Seas on the same day. ||Credit: NASA Worldview|High-resolution image

Figure 2c. These two NASA WorldView True Color images from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor show sea ice conditions in two regions of the Arctic on July 15, 2022. The left image shows melt ponds over sea ice, as seen in light blue-green, in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. The right image shows the low sea ice concentration in the Laptev and Kara Seas towards the North Pole.

Credit: NASA Worldview
High-resolution image

In terms of air temperature, the first half of July 2022 was a tale of regional contrasts (Figure 2a). On the Eurasian side of the Arctic, particularly in the Laptev and Barents Seas, extending toward the North Pole, air temperatures at the 925 mb level (about 2,500 feet about the surface) were 3 to 6 degrees Celsius (5 to 11 degrees Fahrenheit) below average. On the North American side of the Arctic, air temperatures were as much as 8 degrees Celsius (14 degrees Fahrenheit) above average, notably in the southeast Beaufort Sea and the western Canadian Arctic  Archipelago. The sea level pressure pattern was dominated by low pressure over the Laptev Sea sector, centered near the North Pole (Figure 2b).

Warm conditions in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago have enhanced melt pond formation and evolution (Figure 2c, left). Also of note is a region of low concentration ice near the North Pole in the Laptev and Kara Seas sector (Figure 2c, right). Low pressure, such as has been centered over the region in early July, often results in divergence of the ice cover and likely helped form the low concentration area.

Low snow and heat waves

Figure X. This graph shows snow cover extent anomalies in the Northern Hemisphere for MONTH from XXXX to XXXX. The anomaly is relative to the 1981 to 2010 average.||Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center, courtesy Rutgers University Global Snow Lab| High-resolution image

Figure 3. This graph shows snow cover extent as a difference from average in the Northern Hemisphere for June from 1967 to 2022. The anomaly is relative to the 1981 to 2010 average.

Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center, courtesy Rutgers University Global Snow Lab
High-resolution image

By June, snow usually remains only in the high north above the Arctic Circle or at high elevations. June 2022 shows particularly low Northern-Hemisphere snow extent, indicating that the snow melt occurred faster than average. According to Rutgers Snow Lab data, the June 2022 Northern Hemisphere snow extent was third lowest in the record dating back to 1967; only 2012 and 2015 had lower June snow extent (Figure 3).

A recent paper by Rousi et al. found that changes in the jet stream are an important factor in promoting European heatwaves. A possible factor in the jet stream changes is the increasing coastal temperature contrast between the rapidly warming land surface and the more slowly warming ocean/sea ice surface. An early loss of snow contributes to the warming land surface because the loss of high albedo snow allows earlier and more rapid absorption of solar energy. Other studies have also linked early snow loss to summer mid-latitude heatwaves (e.g., Zhang et al., and Connolly et al.).

NASA summer airborne sea ice campaign

ICESat-2 provides estimates of sea ice freeboard (height above the waterline) and thickness.

Figure 4. This map shows estimates of sea ice freeboard, or the height of sea ice above the waterline, for March 2022. Data are from the NASA Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2).

Credit: NASA National Snow and Ice Data Center Distributed Active Archive Center (NSIDC DAAC)
High-resolution image

NASA’s Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) laser altimeter, which launched in 2018, continues to perform well and is providing elevation data of vegetation, clouds, lakes, glaciers, ice sheets, and sea ice. The NASA Snow and Ice DAAC at NSIDC archives and distributes its data. ICESat-2 provides estimates of sea ice freeboard (height above the waterline) and thickness (Figure 4). During summer, when the ice surface is melting, the sea ice data from ICESat-2 have larger errors. NASA scientists are currently in the Arctic conducting an airborne campaign to collect a myriad of validation data that they hope will help improve the ICESat-2 estimates during summer.

Antarctic sea ice extent

Figure 2. The graph above shows Arctic sea ice extent as of XXXXX XX, 20XX, along with daily ice extent data for four previous years and the record low year. 2021 is shown in blue, 2020 in green, 2019 in orange, 2018 in brown, 2017 in magenta, and 2012 in dashed brown. The 1981 to 2010 median is in dark gray. The gray areas around the median line show the interquartile and interdecile ranges of the data. Sea Ice Index data.||Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center|High-resolution image

Figure 5. The graph above shows Antarctic sea ice extent as of July 17, 2022, along with daily ice extent data for seven previous years and the 2017 record low year. 2022 is shown in blue, 2021 in green, 2020 in orange, 2019 in brown, 2018 in magenta, 2016 in light blue, 2014 in light green, 2013 in light orange, and 2017 in dashed red. The 1981 to 2010 median is in dark gray. The gray areas around the median line show the interquartile and interdecile ranges of the data. Sea Ice Index data.

Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
High-resolution image

As of July 17, Antarctic sea ice extent was 14.80 million square kilometers (5.71 million square miles), roughly 240,000 square kilometers (92,700 square miles) below the previous record daily low set in 2017 and 1.14 million square kilometers (440,000 square miles) below the 1981 to 2010 average extent for July 17 (Figure 5). Nearly all regions of coastal Antarctica were below the average extent for mid-July, with the Amundsen and Bellingshausen Seas showing the largest deficits. Ice extent along the northern edge of the Weddell and Dronning Maud sectors, and the region near the Amery Ice Shelf, was also far below average. The polynya that appears in some years in the Cosmonaut Sea has returned. A few areas of the Ross Sea and Wilkes Land have near or slightly above average extent in the satellite record. Temperatures at the 925 millibar level are 3 to 6 degrees Celsius (5 to 11 degrees Fahrenheit) above average for a wide swath of the Antarctic Peninsula and West Antarctic coast, and the Weddell Sea ice edge region is 2 to 3 degrees Celsius (4 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit) above average, with the remaining coast near-average or slightly below.

References

Connolly, R., M. Connolly, W. Soon, D. R. Legates, R. G. Cionco, V. M. Velasco Herrera. 2019. Northern Hemisphere Snow-Cover Trends (1967–2018): A Comparison between Climate Models and Observations. Geosciences. 9(3):135. doi:10.3390/geosciences9030135.

Petty, A. A., R. Kwok, M. Bagnardi, A. Ivanoff, N. Kurtz, J. Lee, J. Wimert, and D. Hancock. 2021. ATLAS/ICESat-2 L3B Daily and Monthly Gridded Sea Ice Freeboard, Version 3. [March 2022]. Boulder, Colorado USA. NASA National Snow and Ice Data Center Distributed Active Archive Center. doi:10.5067/ATLAS/ATL20.003. [Accessed 14 Jul 2022].

Rousi, E., K. Kornhuber, G. Beobide-Arsuaga, and others. 2022. Accelerated western European heatwave trends linked to more-persistent double jets over Eurasia. Nature Communications. 13, 3851. doi:10.1038/s41467-022-31432-y.

Zhang, R., C. Sun, J. Zhu, R. Zhang, and W. Li. 2020. Increased European heat waves in recent decades in response to shrinking Arctic sea ice and Eurasian snow cover. Nature Partner Journals: Climate & Atmospheric Science. 3, 7. doi:10.1038/s41612-020-0110-8.