For the time of year, Arctic sea ice remains at a record low since satellite records started in 1979, both for area and extent. The image below shows Arctic sea ice area up to February 12, 2016, when area was 12.49061 million square km.
The image below shows Arctic sea ice extent up to February 12, 2016, when extent was 14.186 million square km.
The reason for the record low sea ice is that there is more ocean heat than there used to be. The image below shows that on February 12, 2016, the Arctic Ocean sea surface temperature was as warm as 11.3°C (52.4°F) at a location near Svalbard marked by the green circle, a 10.4°C (18.7°F) anomaly.
The reason for this is that the water off the east coast of North America is much warmer than it used to be.
The Gulf Stream is pushing heat all the way into the Arctic Ocean.
The image below shows that on February 14, 2016, sea surface temperature anomalies (compared to 1981-2011) off the east coast of North America were was as high as 10.1°C or 18.1°F (at the location marked by the green circle).
While sea surface looks cooler (compared to 1981-2011) over a large part of the North Atlantic, an increasing amount of ocean heat appears to be traveling underneath the sea surface all the way into the Arctic Ocean, as discussed at this earlier post.
This spells bad news for the sea ice in 2016, since El Niño is still going strong. Temperatures in January 2016 over the Arctic Ocean were 7.3°C (13.1°F) higher than in 1951-1980, according to NASA data, as illustrated by the graph on the right.
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As the NASA map below illustrates, the global January 2016 land-ocean temperature anomaly from 1951-1980 was 1.13°C (or over 2°F) and the heat did hit the Arctic Ocean stronger than elsewhere.
1.92°C (3.46°F) warmer on land than in January 1890-1910. Before 1900, temperature had already risen by ~0.3°C (0.54°F), which makes it a joint 2.22°C (4°F) rise. On the Northern Hemisphere, the rise on land was the most profound, with over 10°C (18°F) warming occurring at the highest latitudes.
The danger is that, as the Arctic Ocean keeps warming, huge amounts of methane will erupt abruptly from its seafloor.
The situation is dire and calls for comprehensive and effective action as described at the Climate Plan.
Update: Arctic sea ice extent keeps falling. Last year (2015), maximum sea ice extent was reached on February 25. Could it be that maximum extent for this year was already reached on February 9, 2016? The image below illustrates this question. discussed further at the Arctic News group.
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