FALSE ALARM: No need to keep reading, it looks as though the folks at NSIDC posted some faulty information and their website is now updated.
I had quite an eye-popping moment when I went to look at the daily chart on the Arctic Sea Ice News and Analysis website. The first thing I noticed was the drop off in sea ice extent shown on the chart that is clearly evident over the past couple of days. However, as I looked closer at the image portion of the update on the left, I saw PLENTY of blue in the Hudson Bay and little blue spots popping up all along the Canadian North and Alaska.
Needless to say, this gave me some concern...
I then went back in time to look at various other charts and images. As far as I can tell, we shouldn't be seeing this kind of melt until at least June or July. Even sliding down the page to look at the February 3, 2009 update, the image and chart almost look normal. But put the two images (that are just weeks apart) side by side and something is happening there.
Of course, the data COULD be erroneous. I have sent them an e-mail to ask. If I hear back, I will post an update. However, if the data shown IS correct, this is big news.
I did a little research into what could be causing it, obviously there is nothing definitive out there except some speculation about methane releases. However, MSNBC did have this article from February 5, 2009: 'Warm everywhere' in Arctic this winter
So clearly while most of us have been experiencing a frigid winter, the Arctic is warming up.
I hope this is of interest to some. I would have posted the images directly, but alas, I have no idea how! If someone would like to post today's daily image in a comment below, I will reference it in the diary.
UPDATE: I am unable to post the pictures directly, but if you click the two images below and look at them side by side, you'll see what I'm getting at: