Arctic sea ice extent was 10.31 million km² on December 4, 2022. At this time of year, extent was smaller only in two years, i.e. in 2016 and 2020, both strong El Niño years. With the next El Niño, Arctic sea ice extent looks set to reach record lows.
Accordingly, Arctic sea ice has barely increased in thickness over the past 30 days, as illustrated by the navy.mil animation on the right.
This leaves only a very short time for Arctic sea ice to grow back in thickness before the melting season starts again, which means that there will be little or no latent heat buffer to consume heat when the melting season starts.
Furthermore, rising temperatures and changes to the Jet Stream contribute to formation of a freshwater lid at the sea surface at higher latitudes, resulting in further heating up of the Arctic Ocean.
As a result, more heat threatens to penetrate sediments at the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean that contain vast amounts of methane in hydrates and free gas, and result in abrupt release of huge amounts of methane, dramatically pushing up temperatures globally.
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• Vishop sea ice extent
• NOAA ENSO: Recent Evolution, Current Status and Predictions
• Climate Reanalyzer
• Naval Research Laboratory - HYCOM Consortium for Data-Assimilative Ocean Modeling
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• Climate Plan