Since the NSIDC produced its press release on the first of October, with the end of the ‘melt season’, there have been some comments on the blogs about the past season, but nobody seems to have noticed this.

The sea ice area anomaly exceeded -2.3 million km2 in September, during the period of minimum cover. But in the past couple of days, it seems to have gone even lower than that; the current anomaly is as great, if not greater, than it was last month.

The sea ice is returning, with some areas seeing reasonable refreezing rates, but overall, there is a lower ice area relative to the long-term date average than ever before, or so it looks. The simple explanation is that it is taking longer than usual for the refreeze to happen, which under the circumstances is not a great surprise.

It’s only a few weeks into the Arctic cold season yet, so what the Winter will bring is unknowable (seasonal variation really is a very strong signal) , but the start does not augur well. My suggestion is that we keep our eyes on the progress of the refreeze for a while yet. Historically, the Winter anomalies have been less extreme than the Summer ones, so we should expect, on average, to see that area anomaly rise, sooner or later. But that ‘sooner or later’ is also significant, as the final level of recovery will likely be affected by the timing of the refreeze.

Keeping my eyes on this one…