Good news from the Arctic. Sea ice extent (area covered by ice) is at a seven-year high. It’s nearly back to within one standard deviation of the 30 year normal at 14.25 million square kilometers.
This year’s ice extent is the highest since 2006 at this point in the year.
Temperatures in the arctic remain well below freezing and should remain there through March. So, more ice should be added in the next few weeks. We are nearing the peak of sea ice in the Northern Hemisphere. Once April roles around, warmer temperatures will move north from the equator. That’s when ice extent will begin its yearly decline toward mid-summer.
I bet you didn’t expect to hear that, especially after the record melt a few years ago. Back in 2007, sea ice extent dropped to its lowest point in the satellite history. Since then, arctic ice extent has increased.
A lot has been made of disappearing Arctic sea ice and the prospects of ice-free summers due to global warming. But, let’s put that into perspective. The problem with much of this debate is the fact that accurate ice measurements go back only a few decades. Satellite measurements date back only to 1979 for Arctic sea ice, so accurate data is barely 30 years old. So, what was the state of Arctic sea ice before then? We just don’t know.
We have anecdotal evidence that shows the arctic with much less ice than we see today. Back in November 1922, The Monthly Weather Review reported on unusually warm temperatures and rapid ice melt in the arctic.
“So little ice has never been seen before.” In fact, scientific exploration that took place in August 1922, sailed in open water all the way to 81° 29 minutes North in ice free waters. This was the “farthest north ever reached with modern oceanographic apparatus.”