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Arctic Ice Extent–Is This The Minimum?

September 8, 2013

By Paul Homewood




At the risk of getting egg on my face again (!), NSIDC figures show that Arctic sea ice extent has now grown for the last two days.


Date Extent million sq km
2nd Sep 5.340
3rd Sep 5.266
4th Sep 5.219
5th Sep 5.171
6th Sep 5.182
7th Sep 5.201
2009 minimum 5.054



It is not uncommon for numbers to bumble around the bottom for a few days, so it is still possible that a new minimum could be set. But at this time of the year, ice melt on average slows down to about 10,000 sq km a day.

So, with no storms forecast in the next few days, it now seems unlikely that the numbers will drop significantly, if at all.

If so, the minimum will be the highest since 2006, as the next highest was 5.054 million sq km in 2009.


According to Cryosphere Today, sea ice area is also slightly above the 2009 figure. This would suggest that the higher extent numbers are not due to “spreading out” of the ice.




Watch this space!



I knew it was tempting fate!

Latest figures from NSIDC for 8th Sep show a drop to 5.119 million sq km.

I’ll update this number each day for the rest of the week.


Sep 9th – 5.079

Sep 10th – 5.117

  1. September 8, 2013 6:08 pm

    Yes, two days of increase suggests that the minimum is near, if it has not actually happened and it looks very likely to be above 2009. using this dataset.
    But as you say, the daily changes vary a lot at this time of year and I don’t think we will
    know for sure for 1 or 2 weeks.

  2. Scott permalink
    September 9, 2013 7:19 pm

    I tend not to sweat what individual metrics say, as they all have their own uncertainties. It’s clear at this point that several metrics will place 2013 between 2009 and 2010 at the minimum. Several will likely have 2013 above 2009. That tells me that with respect to area/extent that we’re pretty close to 2009 or maybe a touch below. PIOMAS has us near 2010 in volume, but those numbers are pretty darn uncertain IMO. To my knowledge, no metrics show us below 2010 or 2008 and that probably won’t change. One metric, the old DMI extent plot, has us equal to the 2005 minimum right now, so it’s possible that one metric will put us at that level, but it appears to be the outlier.

    So the way we’ll look back at it in the future is that 2013 is closer to 2009 than 2010, or maybe pretty much equal to 2009 (except according to PIOMAS of course). I don’t see that changing over the next two weeks…though a rapid rebound would be funny b/c it would get the monthly average up.


  3. September 16, 2013 9:45 am

    NSIDC still not on line but it is beginning to look like the daily minimum was reached on September 12th according to IARC-JAXA.

    Just over 5 million km^2 using version 1 and 4.809 millon km ^2 using version 2.

    3 successive days of increases now, since the 12th.

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