23 March 2020

2020 seasonal forecast currently consistent with low iceberg numbers

Research by Professor Grant Bigg shows that 2020 is currently presenting as a low ice year, with numbers significantly below 2019.

A line graph showing the number of icebergs past 48°N over time

Iceberg numbers past 48°N are currently low, at 15 total for the current ice year. It is worth noting that the peak month for icebergs past 48°N tends to be April/May, so time will tell how representative the early numbers are of the yearly total. However, in the last 10 years, the average number of icebergs in March alone was 151. This month we currently have 14 (with 1 iceberg in late February). 

The figure above shows the daily iceberg numbers past 48°N since 1st February 2016. 2020 is shown in a red, dashed line. This shows that 2020 is currently presenting as a low ice year, with numbers significantly below 2019 and 2016. However, while 2019 was a high ice year, 2016 was only a medium year, but with relatively high numbers in March. It is also worth noting that 2017 appears low, but from the 29th March onwards dramatically increases, resulting in a medium/high ice year. This was likely due to an ice bridge breaking further north, releasing the trapped icebergs in one large group. 2018 shows low values here, and continued on to be a low year. 

Overall, this shows that while low numbers of icebergs at this point cannot guarantee a final low year, current observations do support the model prediction of a low/medium ice year.

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