Tuesday, February 15, 2011

January 2011 Arctic Ice Cover

From The National Snow And Ice Data Center.
Conditions in context
Air temperatures over much of the Arctic were 2 to 6 degrees Celsius (4 to 11 degrees Fahrenheit) above normal in January. Over the eastern Canadian Arctic Archipelago, Baffin Bay/Davis Strait and Labrador Sea, temperatures were at least 6 degrees Celsius (11 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than average. Temperatures were near average over the western Canadian Arctic Archipelago and Scandinavia.

As in December 2010, the warm temperatures in January came from two sources: unfrozen areas of the ocean continued to release heat to the atmosphere, and the wind patterns accompanying the negative phase of the Arctic oscillation brought warm air into the Arctic. Near the end of January the negative Arctic oscillation pattern broke down and turned positive, which usually favors ice growth. It is unclear how long it will remain in a positive mode.

January 2011 compared to past years
January 2011 had the lowest ice extent for the month since the beginning of satellite records. The linear rate of decline for the month is –3.3% per decade.

Ice extent for the Arctic as a whole increased at an average of 42,800 square kilometers (16,500 square miles) per day through the month of January, which is about average.

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