Meltdown: An early prediction of September 2017 Actic sea ice extent

Yes, I'm a bit late but the Arctic is in full meltdown this year. I crunched the numbers for April ice extent and found that this past April saw the second-lowest Arctic sea ice extent on record. Since 1979, average sea ice extent in April has declined by 1,403,600 square kilometers, an area nearly the size of Alaska and over twice the size of Texas. (Alaska has an area of 1,717,854 square kilometers and Texas comes in at 696,241 square kilometers. You can find a list of all 50 states at in case you're curious).

Even more worrisome is the record low average extent in the first four months of this year. Average monthly January to April extent has fallen by 1,626,860 square kilometers since 1979.

This record low comes in spite of neutral ENSO conditions, indicating that something has changed in the Arctic and not for the better. Sea ice volume makes the point even more clear. So far, sea ice volume is setting new record lows, meaning there is a lot of thin ice in the Arctic as the summer melt season begins.

How low will the ice go? Using a regression model with the average of the first four months as a predictor, I estimate that sea ice extent in September will be 4.38 million square kilometers (95% confidence interval: 2.97 to 5.79 million square kilometers) based on this year's January - April average. That's about 810,000 square kilometers above the record low of September 2012. With a lower boundary of 2.97 million square kilometers, however, there is a decent chance that this year will break the 2012 record.


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