In December 2018, the Barents Sea ice extent (expressed as a percentage of the total sea area) equalled 15% and was the lowest since 1951. However, in January–March 2019, ice formation accelerated significantly, and in March (a month earlier than usual), the ice-covered area reached a seasonal maximum of 51% and was close to the long-term average (1981–2010) (Fig. 3.1.3).
The ice extent reduction began in April, not in May, as usual, but intensive ice melting started only in June. During the low-ice season (August–October), ice coverage equalled 1–4% that was 3–9% below average but 1–4% higher compared to the previous year. Freezing began in October and ice formation went much faster than in 2018. The November and December ice coverage were respectively 10 and 9% lower than average but 9 and 16% higher than in 2018. Overall, the 2019 annual mean ice coverage of the Barents Sea was 10% below average but 4% higher than in the previous year.
Figure 3.1.3. Annual (upper) and monthly (lower) ice coverage anomalies in the Barents Sea. </p>