Arctic sea-ice extent remains extremely low

6 November 2018

“This year, the autumnal rebound in the size of sea-ice cover has been a very slow process; as a result, we’re still at a very low level. Possible causes include the continued warm atmospheric temperatures during the past several weeks, and the residual heat stored in the ocean,” explains Professor Christian Haas, head of the sea-ice physics section at the AWI. “That being said, the ice will continue to grow, and thin ice grows more quickly. Accordingly, the current situation isn’t likely to have much effect on the remainder of the winter.” Read more here...

Summer sea-ice extent still retreating – minimum in sight

13 September 2018
“We are approaching this year’s minimum sea-ice extent in the Arctic, and this summer the ice concentration has descreased to its lowest value since observations started, in 1979,” according to Professor Christian Haas, Head of the Sea Ice Physics Section at the AWI. The absolute minimum will probably be 4,3 ± 0.1 million km2. “Due to uncertainties resulting from the different analysis methods, there can be slight discrepencies between the values from different data centres.” Read more here…

AWI ice thickness measurements shed light on the causes of the low ice concentration northeast of Greenland

30 August 2018
The ice north of Greenland is particularly thick, several years old and is mainly formed on the Russian continental shelf. The Transpolar Drift – which acts like a transarctic conveyor belt – transports the sea ice over a few years to the coast of Greenland. Here, the landward drift compresses the pack ice, creating the compact ice cover typical for the region. The following explains which processes are responsible for the formation of ice-free zones north of Greenland in summer, and why the ice concentration was particularly low this year. Read more here…

Arctic sea-ice extent rapidly approaching its summertime minimum

22 August 2018
After the sea-ice extent in the Arctic showed a moderate loss, hovering in the lower portion of the double standard deviation range from the long-term average with in the first half of July, the retreat significantly accelerated in the second half of the month. In terms of the monthly average, July 2018 was characterised by a higher sea-ice extent than last year in the Pacific sector (Chukchi Sea and East Siberian Sea), but a significantly lower extent in the Atlantic sector. More here…

AWI team reaches the North Pole

16 August 2018
It may come as a surprise, but due to this year’s ice conditions, the Swedish icebreaker Oden had serious difficulties penetrating to the North Pole. The Oden first hit the edge of the ice at 82 °N. “We’re very curious to see how the dense ice in the region has affected the ice thickness and the algae livening in the ice,” reports Christian Katlein from on board the icebreaker. More here…

The days are getting longer, the seasonal sea-ice extent is still on the rise – the status quo of Antarctic sea ice

7 August 2018
The maximum sea-ice extent around the Antarctic continent has by no means already been reached. Nevertheless, over the past few months the area of sea ice has grown by an average of 0.1 million km2 per day, a higher rate than has been observed in the past several years. Read more about the actual Antarctic sea ice situation here...

Regional seasonal forecasts of sea-ice conditions as an indicator for the navigability of Arctic passages

27 July 2018
Can we already provide reliable forecasts for the navigability of the Northern Sea Routes on a timeframe of several months, to enable shipping with the lowest possible risk? These and other questions are being explored by the sea-ice modelling group at the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI). Read more here...

Winter 2017/18 sea ice thickness analysis with observations from CryoSat-2

21 June 2018
CryoSat-2, a radar altimeter satellite of the European Space Agency (ESA), had its eighth birthday on April 8, 2018. Observations from CryoSat-2 add vital information on sea ice thickness to other satellite observations, such as sea ice concentration, drift and extent. Read more here about latest results from the these measurements.

The Arctic Remains Extremely Warm – the Next Season of Sea-ice Forecasting Begins

13 June 2018
“May 2018 was the warmest May in Germany since 1881,” reviewed the the German Weather Service. “We also had an unusually warm month in the Arctic, as a result of which the melting near the ice margin began earlier in the year,” explains Christian Haas, a sea-ice physicist and head of the sea-ice physics section at the Alfred Wegener Institute. Read more here...

Old Ice in the High North – Where the Ice Floes Still Form Massive Hummocks

31 May 2018
It was an unforgettable welcome after a long journey: when we came in from the Arctic cold (-25°C) and first set foot in the entrance area of Canada’s CFS Alert station, the entire staff, decked out in their best uniforms, greeted us with an honour guard and warm round of applause. Read more here...

Sea-ice Situation in the Arctic Continues to be at a Seasonal Low

23 May 2018
“The trend toward low values for the Arctic sea-ice extent continued in the spring, while at the same time, the mean ice thickness was slightly below the average for the past seven years,” stresses Dr Marcel Nicolaus, a sea-ice physicist at the AWI. The sea-ice extent was 12.08 million km² on 16 May, putting it clearly below the double standard deviation from the long-term average. Read more here...

Start of the Arctic Winter Observation Phase in the Year of Polar Prediction

11 May 2018
1 February to 31 March 2018 marked the first Arctic winter observation phase in the Year of Polar Prediction. In the span of these two months, sixteen Arctic weather stations operated by seven different countries sent up more than 1,900 additional weather balloons. Read more here...

Data portal expands its services for sea-ice drift

15 March 2018
‘The sea-ice drift data offers researchers the chance to more accurately investigate the loss of sea ice in the Arctic by allowing them to view not only the ice concentration and thickness, but also horizontal ice transport,’ explains Dr Hiroshi Sumata, a sea-ice physicist at the AWI and head of the project for calculating sea-ice drift uncertainties. Read more here...

Sea-ice concentration in the Antarctic reaches its minimum

12 March 2018
While record high temperatures for winter were being measured in the Arctic and the maximum winter sea-ice extent was reached, the sea-ice extent in the Antarctic reached its summer minimum for this year. The especially low amount of Antarctic sea-ice cover this summer meant extremely favourable conditions for the research icebreaker RV Polarstern, whose route took her to the southern Weddell Sea this year.

Read more here...

Sea ice extent on record low: In the Arctic it is too warm and too wet

2 March 2018
Usually, at the North Pole the sun doesn’t rise before 20th March and it is the coldest time of the year. But this year, February was extraordinarily warm. Analyses of satellite and station data indicate that very warm air has been advected towards the Arctic, which allowed temperatures to rise until the freezing point. Read more here...