September Sea Ice Outlook: June Report

Release Date: 
11 June 2012

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With 19 responses for the Pan-Arctic Outlook (plus 6 regional Outlook contributions), the June Sea Ice Outlook projects a September 2012 arctic sea extent median value of 4.4 million square kilometers, with quartiles of 4.3 and 4.7 million square kilometers (Figure 1). This compares to observed September values of 4.6 in 2011, 4.9 in 2010, and 5.4 in 2009. Both the 2012 quartile values and the range (4.1 to 4.9) are quite narrow. The 2012 June Outlook differs from all previous Outlooks in that there are no projections of extent greater than 5.0. It is always important to note for context that all 2012 estimates are well below the 1979–2007 September mean of 6.7 million square kilometers.

Individual responses are based on a range of methods: statistical, numerical models, comparison with previous rates of sea ice loss, composites of several approaches, estimates based on various non-sea ice datasets and trends, and subjective information. The consensus is for a continued downward trend of September sea ice. It seems that the time may have come to declare that the arctic sea ice has in fact reached a "New Normal." The physical justification for this statement is based primarily on the loss of old, thick sea ice and the increased mobility of sea ice. An expanded discussion of sea ice age and thickness is included in this month's full report, which includes new sea ice thickness data from NASA "IceBridge" aircraft flights in March–April 2012.

Figure 1. Distribution of individual Pan-Arctic Outlook values (June Report).Figure 1. Distribution of individual Pan-Arctic Outlook values (June Report) for September 2012 sea ice extent. Download High Resolution Version of Figure 1.

Credit for Sea Ice Outlook Report: Arctic Research Consortium of the US (ARCUS)