Nov 18, 2016

Crazy Cryosphere: Record Low Sea Ice, An Overheated Arctic, and a Snowbound Eurasia

Arctic
by
Bob Henson
,
Category 6
Global sea ice extent is experiencing a similar departure from average as global sea ice area. Experts usually analyze Arctic and Antarctic sea ice separately rather than together. Image: Wipneus, using data from National Snow and Ice Data Center
Global sea ice extent is experiencing a similar departure from average as global sea ice area. Experts usually analyze Arctic and Antarctic sea ice separately rather than together. Image: Wipneus, using data from National Snow and Ice Data Center

There are weather and climate records, and then there are truly exceptional events that leave all others in the dust. Such has been the case across Earth’s high latitudes during this last quarter of 2016, on track to be the planet’s warmest year on record. Sea ice extent and area have both plummeted to record lows for this time of year in both the Arctic and Antarctic. Such dramatic losses rarely occur at the same time, which means that the global total of sea ice coverage is phenomenally low for this time of year. The weirdness extends to midlatitudes: North America as well as the Arctic have been bathed in unusual mildness over the last several weeks, while Eurasia deals with a vast zone of above-average snowfall and below-average temperatures.