By Matt Owens May 31, 2013
Last year a large Arctic cyclone in the summer preceded a major drop in sea-ice, as documented in research by Jinlun Zhang et al (2013). That study showed how the strong winds broke up already thin ice, opening areas of ocean between the floating ice and allowing increased vertical mixing of the water below - leading to more heat transport and more melt of the sea-ice. In fact, during the cyclone, the rate of bottom melting (where the ocean meets the ice underneath) quadrupled.
This year's cyclone is still going strong four days after starting. Here's the latest image from NASA satellites (compilation of infrared and visible) - red shades are sea-ice; areas of open ice are clearly visible spiralling out from the cyclone's eye: