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A very impressive <970 mbar cyclone over the Arctic ocean, the sea-ice extent at a record low

It has been one hell of a ride for the weather over the Arctic region this year. Besides the record-breaking heatwave from Siberia into the Arctic ocean earlier this summer, there is a very deep cyclone ongoing in the Beaufort Sea this week. With its central pressure below 970 mbar, this was the 2nd lowest Arctic storm on record.

Satellite image over the Arctic ocean, July 28th. Graphics: NASA

Timelapse animation of the evolution of the Arctic cyclone over the past few days. Source: Kevin Pluck
Cyclone bottomed at 968 mbar


Attached is the overview of the remarkable low forming over the Arctic ocean. Looking over the 500 mbar, surface pressure and winds analysis for July 28th.

500 mbar analysis. Graphics: Climate reanalyzer

A cyclone (Arctic storm) formed over north-central Siberia, tracked eastward along the coast, crossing Wrangel Island on Sunday. It then entered the Beaufort Sea on Monday and exploded in intensity.

Surface winds analysis. Graphics: Climate reanalyzer

The lowest sea-level pressure reached around 968 mbar. Usually low cyclone bottomed at around 968 mbar, just shy higher than the record Arctic storm in August 2012.

Surface pressure analysis. Graphics: Climate reanalyzer

Northern Hemisphere surface analysis. Graphics: NOAA

It will take several days for the sea ice response in the movement by the force of this cyclone. There are already some reports of the ice moving away from Barrier islands east of Pt. Barrow.

Impressive satellite imagery


Here are some additional satellite images of this very impressive Arctic cyclone in the Beaufort Sea, July 28th. Its central pressure was around 970 mbar at the time.

Satellite image over the Arctic ocean, July 28th. Graphics: NASA

Satellite image over the Arctic ocean, July 28th. Graphics: NASA
Record low Arctic sea-ice extent


July has seen much above normal temperatures over the Arctic region. Through the first half of the month, the anomaly was close to 10 °C above the long-term average.

Arctic region temperature anomaly. Graphics: NOAA

Through mid-July 2020, the Arctic sea ice extent was at a record low. The Siberian heat wave lasting from late spring initiated an early ice retreat along the Russian coast. Therefore, leading to a very low sea ice extent in the Laptev and Barents Seas. The Northern Sea route appears to be nearly open.

Arctic sea-ice extent. Graphics: NSIDC

On July 15th, the Arctic sea ice extent was at 7.51 million square kilometers (2.90 million square miles). That is a remarkable 330.000 square kilometers (127.000 square miles) below the record for July 15, which was set back in the year 2011. This means the sea-ice extent is at the lowest level for the mid-summer month on the satellite record.

Yearly Arctic sea-ice extent. Graphics: NSIDC

The low extent for the Arctic as a whole is largely driven by extensive open water in the Laptev and Barents Seas, continuing the pattern that began this spring and is still lasting.

Arctic sea-ice concentration. Graphics: NSIDC

Heatwaves over Siberia are occasionally still ongoing and model simulations for the upcoming weeks are no different.

Another heatwave over Siberia. Graphics: Tropicaltidbits

See our previous discussion on the Arctic ocean: