Posted by: JohnnyRook | January 23, 2009

Arctic Sea Ice, Once Again, Refreezing at Same Rate as in Record-Setting 2006-2007

Here are the latest data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). For the second time this year, the refreeze rate has stalled. This first happened in December 2008 for about a week. Now, once again, the refreezing rate has gone flat bringing 2008-2009 refreezing to nearly the same point that it was on the same day (January 22) in 2006-2007, the year when the record for minimal extent was set. The most significant difference between 2006-2007 and this year, is that this year’s ice has a lot more first- and second-year ice which is thinner, and therefore more likely to melt away quickly than older, thicker ice.

Now of course, none of this tells us what is going to happen over the next two months. The refreeze rate may continue downward and pass below the 2006-2007 level or it may swing back up again closer to the 1979-2000 average. But, if it continues to run parallel to or sink below the 2006-2007 average it is difficult to see how we will not have a record sea-ice melt this summer, even if the National Weather Service’s prediction of weak la Niña conditions through early summer hold true.

Graph and Map are from National Snow and Ice Data Center
For larger images click here and here.



  1. Probably this is just weather like it was in december, but still it is very interesting to follow the data for the ice extend this winter.
    I have looked more detailed into the data and found that the standstill of the ice extend now have been lasting for ten days, since the 16. january.
    The ice extend is now 32 000 square kilometer less than ten days ago.
    If we compare this with the same period last winter the difference is 622 000 square kilometer less ice extend.
    Last winter the ice extend grew from 13, 012 mill. square kilometer to 13, 603 mill. square kilometer from 16. to 25. january.
    But it is still 2006 that have the record minimum extent for this time of january.
    25. januar 2006 the ice extend was just 12, 665 mill. square kilometer, 667 000 square kilometer less than this january.
    Torsten Hanssen, Norway

    • Torsten,

      Do you have a link to the data that shows the 600,000+ square kilometer difference on January 26 between this year and the last two years? When I look at the NSIDC graph it appears to me that both trend lines are at around 14,000,000 km2 on January 25th.

  2. Johnny,

    Take a look at this page:

    It is updated daily with the lastest day-by-day figures.
    Just download and you get all the figures you want from 2002 to 2009. Just excellent for all the ice extend-nerds 🙂

    • Thanks a lot, Torsten. The info is great. I really appreciate it. It’s amazing that the sea-ice extent was greater yesterday than it was 8 days earlier.


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