Although there is a lot of summer left and the last thing we are thinking about is cold and ice, it is good in mid-summer to take a look in the far north (Arctic) and the far south (Antarctica) and see what is happening at the high latitudes.
You hear a lot in the news about the ice, especially in the Arctic. It is sometimes hard these days to separate the wheat from the chaff. How is the ice really doing? First, let’s go south into the Antarctic region. It should be noted that the historical records of ice extent only goes back to 1979 (1979 was the year satellites began to measure ice extent). Therefore, there is only about 35 years of satellite ice record available to detect trends.
You might be surprised that the ice extent in the southern hemisphere is above normal as you can see in the graph below.
The gray line represents the 30 year average (1979 to 2008) with the blue line representing the current ice extent. The winter season of 2014 brought record ice extent to the southern hemisphere.
Up north, the sea ice extent in the Arctic is shown below. Sea ice extent is below the thirty year average but has rebounded from lows of 2008 and 2012. All indication suggest the Arctic sea ice extent will increase during the winter of 2015/2016 as the North Atlantic water temperatures are falling and this will reduce ice melt in the Arctic over the next year.
Also bolstering the forecast for ice coverage to increase is the relatively cool summer going on in the Arctic this summer season.
The green line represents the average temperature (K) with the red line representing observed summer temperatures. For most of the spring and summer season, temperatures in the Arctic have been close to normal or slightly below.
With summer half over, it looks like the current trends will continue (in both hemispheres) for the rest of the season.