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Multi-year ice fragments. Courtesy of RUSALCA 2012 Expedition. Photograph: D. Petrova
Multi-year ice fragments. Courtesy of RUSALCA 2012 Expedition. Photograph: D. Petrova

Sea Ice and Ocean Summary

Section Coordinator: Mary-Louise Timmermans

Department of Geology & Geophysics, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA

November 8, 2013

The Arctic sea ice extent annual minimum in September 2013 was a little over 50% greater than the September 2012 record low of the period of satellite observations (1979-2013). Nevertheless, the annual minimum areal extent in 2013 was still almost 20% less than the 1981-2010 average. The ice cover continues to be dominated by first-year ice; 78% in March 2013 compared to 58% a quarter century ago in March 1988. Less-extensive sea-ice retreat in 2013 was linked to lower summer sea-surface temperatures in the Chukchi and East Siberian seas relative to recent years. However, anomalously warm sea-surface temperatures (relative to recent decades) persisted in most Arctic Ocean boundary regions in summer 2013. In the upper ocean, relatively high freshwater and heat contents continued to be observed in 2013 in the Beaufort Gyre region of the Canada Basin, although with slight reductions relative to the preceding year.