Ice conditions

Photo: Vegard Stürzinger

Meteorological and oceanographic conditions 2020
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From January to April 2020, the Barents Sea ice extent (expressed as a percentage of the total sea area) was slightly (by 3–7%) less than the long-term means (1981–2010) (Fig. 3.1.3). However, in May, intensive ice melting started, and by August, the sea was completely free of ice.

Ice conditions

In May–July, the ice coverage was 14–20% less than average (Fig. 3.1.3), and in August and September, the ice edge was outside the sea, along 82–83°N. The first drift ice appeared between the Franz Josef Land and Spitsbergen Archipelagos in the middle of October; and at the end of October, ice formation began in the south-eastern Barents Sea. As a result, in October, the ice coverage did not exceed 1% that was 11% less than average, and in November, it equalled 3% – the smallest value since 1951. In November and December, the ice coverage was less than both the 1981–2010 average (by 26 and 20%, respectively) and those in 2019 (by 16 and 11%). Overall, the 2020 annual mean ice coverage of the Barents Sea was 11% below average and 2% less than in the previous year.

Figure 3.1.3. Ice coverage (lower right) and its monthly (lower left) and annual (upper) anomalies in the Barents Sea. Figure 3.1.3. Ice coverage (lower right) and its monthly (lower left) and annual (upper) anomalies in the Barents Sea.

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