The Sea Ice Outlook reports low pan-arctic ice extent

The outlook for arctic sea ice in September 2009, based on July data, indicates a continuation of low pan-arctic sea ice extent and no indication that a return to historical levels will occur.

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Photo: S. Gerland / Norsk Polarinstitutt

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Sea ice extent Greenland and Barents sea (mean), the red line is data from July 2009.

The September outlook lies between 4.2 to 5.0 million square kilometers of sea ice in the pan-Arctic region. This represents a near-record minimum. All estimates for September are well below the 1979–2007 September climatological mean value of 6.7 million square kilometers.

Warm, clear conditions led to significant sea ice melt during the month of July, with some areas of unusually low ice extent and an atmospheric pattern that promotes summer sea ice loss in the Pacific sector of the Arctic. At this point in the sea ice season, the minimum extent will largely be driven by atmospheric conditions, including winds and temperatures.

Ice extent in the Greenland and Barents seas for July ranges from below to well below average values. In the eastern Barents, July ice extent is at a record low for this month, surpassing July 2007.

Sebastian Gerland and Harvey Goodwin at the Norwegian Polar Institute have contributed to the report with sea ice data on the Greenland Sea and Barents Sea, and comparisons of current, previous and mean ice distributions in this area, along with sea ice thikcness and landfast ice distributions around Svalbard.

The SEARCH Sea Ice Outlook is an international effort to provide a community-wide summary of the expected September arctic sea ice minimum. Monthly reports released throughout the summer synthesize community estimates of the current state and expected minimum of sea ice—at both a pan-arctic and regional scale.

Text: Partly taken from the Sea Ice Outlook Report