Although the end of the Arctic summer ice-melt season is still 3-4 weeks away, I think it fair to say that this year will be one of the weakest over the past 15 years in terms of area of ice-melt. A period which contains all of the most significant melt years on record.
This would not have been apparent some 2-3 weeks ago when the season was on track for another significant summer melt. I have shared an image showing this year so far in blue, last year in green and the record 2012 year in dashed red, from the interactive NSIDC chart.
Something is going on in the Arctic over the past week or two, but likely nothing out of the ordinary. As NSIDC only produces a monthly analysis in the first few days of each month, we shall have to wait another week or two to find out what that something is.
I suspect this is a case of the variabilities of weather acting on the less volatile trends of climate playing a part on the outcome – as it does every year. It is the trends that really matter. But is this somehow connected with the excessive heat and widespread fires reported all across northern land latitudes this year? Your guess would be as good as mine.