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Arctic Sea Ice Forecast

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2021 First report

Arctic Sea Ice Information Center, Noriaki KIMURA (Atmosphere and Ocean Research Institute, The University of Tokyo)

Figure 1: Predicted sea ice distribution on September10, 2021
  1. Minimum ice extent will be about 3.67 million square kilometers in September, almost the same size as 2020.
  2. The Northern Sea Route will open around August 2, and the Canadian side except for Canadian archipelago will open around July 15.
The interannual change of minimum sea ice extent since 2003.
Figure 2:The interannual change of minimum sea ice extent since 2003. Value of 2021 (marked by yellow) is our prediction.
Animation of predicted Arctic sea ice extent from the July 1 to the September 20.
Figure 3:Animation of predicted Arctic sea ice extent from the July 1 to the September 20.
Yellow and green lines indicate the ice edge of the same day for 2019 and 2020.
Animation of the daily anomaly of the predicted ice concentration from 2003-2019 mean.
Figure 4:Animation of the daily anomaly of the predicted ice concentration from 2003-2020 mean. Red color shows the area of faster ice retreat. Blue shows the area of slower ice retreat.

Summer Arctic sea ice extent has been declining in recent decades, and while the decline was less evident between 2013 and 2019, the ice cover in 2020 shrank to the second lowest extent after 2012. As Arctic sea ice extent is declining in 2019 and 2020, this year’s sea ice extent is predicted to be as small as that of 2020.

Russian side

Ice cover in the Russian side will retreat slower than in 2020, but faster than 2019. The Northern Sea Route will open around August 2, the same date as 2020.

Canadian side

Sea ice from the Chukchi Sea to the Beaufort Sea will retreat with the same timing as 2019. Sea routes of the Canadian side will open around July 15.

For this prediction, we used the sea ice data from satellite microwave sensors AMSR-E and AMSR2, and the relationship between the winter ice motion and summer ice concentration (Kimura et al., 2013). This forecast considers the long-term trend of sea ice concentration as well as the movement of sea ice during the winter, in the same manner as that of the last year’s work.

Ice prediction map is also available in Arctic Data Archive System (ADS) at National Institute of Polar Research.