2012 Sea Ice Outlook: Post-Season Summary

11 December 2012

Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH)

For further information and to view the post-season summary, please go
to: http://www.arcus.org/search/seaiceoutlook/2012/summary

For questions, please contact:
Helen Wiggins, SEARCH Project Office, ARCUS
Email: helen@arcus.org

The Post-Season Summary of the 2012 Sea Ice Outlook is now available
online. The average arctic sea ice monthly extent for September 2012 was
the lowest observed in the satellite era at 3.6 million square
kilometers, based on National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC)

This value was 50% lower than the 1979-2000 average of 7.0 million
square kilometers. It compares to the previous low values in 2007 at 4.3
million square kilometers and 4.6 million square kilometers in 2011.

All individual Outlook estimates (20 groups total contributed) in the
June and July reports were higher than the observed September arctic sea
ice extent. June Outlooks (based on May data) had a median value of 4.4
million square kilometers; July Outlooks (based on June data) had a
median value of 4.6 million square kilometers. However, of the 19
participants in the SIO June report, for example, 10 projected a
September ice extent of 4.4 million square kilometers or less; thus, the
majority of the participating groups were low relative to past years and
thus were strongly in the right direction. Quartile ranges were narrow,
at 0.4 and 0.5 million square kilometers, respectively.

Unlike 2007, which had a strong unusual wind pattern during all the
summer months that contributed to major sea ice loss, summer 2012
meteorology was generally unremarkable, except for a strong storm in
early August that contributed to sea ice breakup. Thus, although 2007
and 2012 were both record minimum years, there was a difference in their
causes, with the record in 2012 primarily dependent on thin ice
conditions. None of the Outlooks seem to have fully captured the
importance of thin sea ice. Further review of conditions in 2012 will be
an important contribution toward seasonal forecasting.

For further information and to view the post-season summary, please go
to: http://www.arcus.org/search/seaiceoutlook/2012/summary.

For questions, please contact:
Helen Wiggins, SEARCH Project Office, ARCUS
Email: helen@arcus.org

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