Tuesday 23 July 2019

An Arctic ice update and comparison with 2012

The sea ice extent record to be broken is 2012 that saw particularly warm conditions in the Arctic and the 13th biggest cyclone ever that saw the mixing of salt water with fresh water and an unprecedented melt.

In the meantime the condition of the ice in terms of thickness and concentration is much, much worse.

What will happen in the next 8 weeks?

Arctic sea ice in 2012 and 2019 – a comparison

This is the latest information on Arctic sea ice extent from Zack Labe.

2012 is the record to beat. Sea ice was far more intact in terms of thickness and concentration but the huge storm churned everything up and led to a record low sea ice extent.

This is how things looked by September 15, 2012

Great Arctic Cyclone of 2012

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Great Arctic Cyclone of 2012
Arctic cyclone image2.jpg
Satellite image of Great Arctic Cyclone of 2012 (center) which was an unusually strong storm which formed over Siberia on August 2, 2012 and tracked into the center of the Arctic Ocean, where it slowly dissipated.
TypeExtratropical cyclone
Polar low
FormedAugust 2, 2012
DissipatedAugust 14, 2012
Lowest pressure962 hPa (28.41 inHg)
Highest winds
  • 1-minute sustained:
    130 km/h (80 mph)
Areas affectedSiberiaAlaskaArcticCanadian Arctic Archipelago

The Great Arctic Cyclone,[1] or "Great Arctic Cyclone of 2012," was a powerful extratropical cyclone that was centered on the Arctic Ocean in early August 2012. Such storms are rare in the Arctic summer, although common in the winter. The Great Arctic Cyclone was the strongest summer storm in the Arctic and the 13th strongest storm observed at any time in the Arctic, since satellite observations began in 1979.[2][3]
Although the Great Arctic Cyclone did not cause the record melting of sea ice which occurred in 2012, turbulence from the storm is believed to have contributed to melting of sea ice, due to the rise of warmer saltier water from below.[4]

Meteorological history[edit]

On August 2, 2012, an extratropical low formed over Siberia. During the next few days, the storm slowly drifted into the Arctic Ocean, while gradually strengthening.[3] On August 5, the storm reached the Arctic Ocean and began to rapidly intensify, while drifting closer to the North Pole. On August 6, the extratropical cyclone reached a peak intensity of 962 mbar (28.4 inHg), while centered about halfway between Alaska and the North Pole.[1] At this point, the Great Arctic Cyclone of 2012 was the strongest summer Arctic storm on record, since the beginning of records in 1979.[3] Afterward, the storm slowly began to weaken, while drifting towards Canada. On August 12, the cyclone made landfall in the northern Canadian Arctic Archipelago, and slowly moved eastward across land, while rapidly weakening. Late on August 14, the Arctic cyclone dissipated over the far northern reaches of Canada.[3]


The Great Arctic Cyclone of 2012 became the strongest Arctic storm in the summer on record, since records began in 1979. At its peak intensity of 962 mbar (28.4 i

This is how the Arctic looked after the cyclone

After the cyclone the old ice north of Greenland and the Canadian archipelago was still intact

The Canadian archipelago - in 2012...
And this year.
But ice in the Bering Strait was well-and-truly broken- up

Here is how it looked on July 20, before the storm

Bering Strait on 21 August, 2012

The same area on 12 August, 2019 - the last truly clear day


Compare the thickness of the sea ice on 21 July

We do not have information for 2012 but in 2012 at the same time the ice was much more intact and thicker ( 2.5 - 4.5 metres compared with 1.5 - 2 meters this year.

All the old ice has gone.


Now, compare the sea ice concentration for the same day in 2014 and 2019

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