Sea Ice Volume, S1E3, Monthly PIOMAS Thickness Maps 2012

This time the Sea Ice Volume Series offers an interactive feature to explore sea ice reduction in 2012. Just hover your mouse over the months below to load the indicated map.

PIOMAS shows significant reduction in thickest ice category North of Greenland and the Archipelago in December. An overall thinning compared to December 2011 is also observable, but less surprising, because that's the trend.

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Yearly Sea Ice Volume Loss

The question: "When will the Arctic be ice free?" can be posed differently as: "When will we have 100% ice loss during the melting season?". The interactive chart above tries to answer second question. The yearly loss is defined as the difference between maximum and minimum volume.

'Ice free' and 'ice loss' are slightly different concepts or metaphors. A loss of 100% means the Arctic is ice free and a loss of 0% there was no Summer. Ice-free-ness implies the sheet starts phasing out somewhere in the future. Actually this is already happening and it is accelerating. The real question is when will it hit the ground? Having 100% ice loss eliminates all room for discussion, because there is no such thing as 110% loss, 100% loss simply means game over.

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Applying Gauss to PIOMAS

An accelerating trend is an invitation to do all kind of weird math to anticipate the future. I'm no exception, so here you go: The PIOMAS June data was just released stating Ice volume for March 2012 and 2011 was ~20,800 km³. That's the orange line on the left.

Now the data also tells three month later a lot of ice was already lost and the loss is approximately 1000 km³ greater than the year before. It would be interesting to know who provides an extra energy of 3x10e20 Joules to melt the ice, but that's another story. Let's assume for now the trend continues and every year an additional cube of ice with an edge length of 10km disappears. What's the math?

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