Ice conditions in the Barents Sea in 2018 developed as in low-ice years. In January and February, the ice coverage (expressed as a percentage of the sea area) was respectively 20 and 17% lower than average (1981–2010) and close to that in 2017 (Fig. 3.1.3). The seasonal maximum of ice extent was, as usual, in April; the ice coverage was 53% that was 4% lower than average but 9% higher than in 2017. Ice melting started intensively in May. In summer (June–August), the ice coverage was 7–19% lower than average and 3–7% lower than in 2017.
From August to October, there was no ice in the Barents Sea; in October, it happened for the first time since 1984. Freezing started in the last days of October. In November and December, the ice coverage was respectively 19 and 25% lower than average and slightly lower (by 2–3%) than in 2017. The December ice coverage reached a record low value (15%) for this month since 1951. Overall, the 2018 annual mean ice coverage of the Barents Sea was 13% lower than average as it was in 2017.
Figure 3.1.3. Ice coverage anomalies in the Barents Sea in 1985–2018. The green line shows monthly values, the black one – 11-month running means.