The National Snow And Ice Data Center - NSISC - reports:
Despite cool temperatures over most of the Arctic Ocean in January, Arctic sea ice extent continued to track below normal. By the end of January, ice extent dropped below the extent observed in January 2007.http://nsidc.org/arctic sea ice news
While temperatures over much of the central Arctic Ocean were 1 to 3 degrees Celsius (2 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit) below normal, temperatures in the Kara and Barents seas were 3 to 5 degrees Celsius (5 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than normal. Ice extent was far below normal in the Kara and Barents seas, keeping the total Arctic sea ice extent below average.
A recent paper by Thorsten Markus at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center suggests that the later freeze-up is the dominant factor lengthening the melt season. The analysis shows that, on average, autumn freeze-up starts nearly four days later each decade. Extensive open water at the end of the summer melt season, combined with warmer autumns, delay the autumn freeze-up. The larger expanses of open water absorb more solar energy, and before ice can form again, that heat must be released back to the atmosphere. This trend is most pronounced in the Beaufort, Chukchi and Laptev seas.
A report on Canada.com by Bruce Owen, Winnipeg Free Press, February 6, 2010 states:
Sea ice in Canada’s fragile Arctic is melting faster than anyone expected, the lead investigator in Canada’s largest climate-change study yet said Friday — raising the possibility that the Arctic could, in a worst-case scenario, be ice-free in about three years.http://www.canada.com/technology/...
University of Manitoba Prof. David Barber, the lead investigator of the Circumpolar Flaw Lead System Study, said the rapid decay of thick Arctic Sea ice highlights the rapid pace of climate change in the North and foreshadows what will come in the South.
“We’re seeing it happen more quickly than what our models thought would happen,” Barber said at a student symposium on climate change in Winnipeg. “It’s happening much faster than our most pessimistic models suggested.”
A flaw lead is an opening between fast ice and pack ice, or between pack ice and land.