Throughout most of the year of 2008, the sea ice extent was less than normal, but more than in 2007. In comparison with the previous year, the ice coverage (expressed as a percentage of the sea area) was 2-6 % more in January-March and twice as much by June. In May, a polynya started to form south of the Franz Josef Land archipelago and in July the ice massif was finally broken. Come September, the area near Franz Josef Land was ice-free and the main ice massif was in the north-western Barents Sea near the east coast of the Spitsbergen archipelago.
Ice formation started in the northernmost sea in October. By the end of the year the ice coverage of the Barents Sea was 5-12 % less than normal and 13-19 % more than in 2007 (Figure 4.2.12).