By Steve Goddard
JAXA shows the area immediately west of Barrow, Alaska as ice free. And it appears to be melting away from the shore.
The animation below shows the month of May so far.
This apparent melt surprised me, because the University of Alaska reports sea ice at Barrow 4-1/2 feet thick and topped by another foot of snow. The ice has thickened six inches during the past month and about 18 inches since the start of the year.
The sensor is located immediately offshore of Barrow, as seen below.
Below is the current view of the ice from Barrow.
We have an apparent paradox. The ice has been steadily thickening all year, yet a big hole has appeared in the ice near Barrow. The hole can be easily seen in the enhanced NASA satellite image below.
What could be causing the hole? The edges of the ice are clean and it has been too cold all month to melt, so something else must be going on.
The video below of the entire Arctic makes it clear. There has been a clockwise circulation which is shearing the ice away from the land in at least four locations (outlined by blue squares.)
We have found the recent decline in the JAXA extent graph, and it isn’t primarily due to melt.