While central Europe and Russia are freezing and covered with snow, the story is different in the high Arctic. In late January BarentsObserver reported on abnormal heat on Svalbard with weeks with temperatures over freezing, rain and smelting snow. The situation at sea in the Arctic is even more abnormal.
A climate blogger has writing for Climate Progress has posted this series of satellite images of the extent of the sea ice over the last nine years, a period with dramatic changes in Arctic. But, while the sea ice has melted earlier in the spring and come back later in autumn, February has been a stable month with ice nearly everywhere as the sun is under the horizon. Until this year
The Barents Sea is ice-free up till 76° to 78° North between Svalbard and Novaya Zemlya. Also, the areas west of Spitsbergen on Svalbard are ice-free. Polar bears on the Atlantic side of the Arctic migrate between Svalbard, Franz Josef’s Land and Novaya Zemlya. Less ice means more trouble later in the spring and summer.