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.
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.