Whoever said watching the Arctic during the melting season is boring, needs to put his glasses on. After a record low reflectivity of the Greenland ice sheet (with accompanying floodings on the west coast of Greenland), the calving of another enormous iceberg from Petermann Glacier, and the general rapid decline of Arctic sea ice despite adverse weather patterns, we can now add to the 2012 melting season bonanza the appearance of a cyclone the likes of which are rarely seen in winter, let alone in summer.
The storm came in from Siberia, intensified and then positioned itself over the central Arctic, reaching sea level pressures of below 965 mb in the storm's centre, engendering 20 knot winds and 50 mph wind gusts.
The storm is now losing its strength and dissipating, but its effect on the sea ice has been enormous so far. In this phase of the melting season when decline starts to slow down, large swathes of sea ice just disappear from one day the next, and the next, and the next (which is why I refer to it as flash melting). It can clearly be seen on this animation of sea ice concentration maps that are updated daily on the Cryosphere Today website, showing the sea ice decline of the past couple of days: