~Very latest data suggests 2016 has exceedingly thin sea ice.
A series of observations on the ground and within the air itself may help explain surface based thermal inversions, of which a significant player is sea ice and snow cover.
Darkness offers ideal thermal flux studies, largely because inconsistent rapid changes by clouds and sun radiation from varying elevations can change the thermal balance quickly. Without the sun, we can literally see how thick sea ice is because the only heat source is mostly from the Ocean even if covered by ice and snow insulation. If sea ice is thinner, more heat escapes from it by conduction, convection and IR rays. But the very top of sea ice surface can have the same temperature but was never observed warmer than surface air, triggering a prime optical refraction rule: - top of sea ice is always colder or equal in temperature to surface air- , as observed in all observation captures so far, this is just as so in darkness as well.
It is also known that the upper air temperature profile maximum point increases in altitude in direct proportion to how cold the lower atmosphere is. The higher the warmest air layer altitude is on a given upper air profile, the lesser it can influence the surface temperature below, the steeper the surface based inversion usually becomes, in optical response the horizon rises. Warmer oceans than air right above always cause the surface to air interface to be adiabatic, freezing of sea ice surface marks the beginning of a different lower atmospheric profile, isothermal at first, then progressively after, surface based inversions start to dominate and eventually persist all winter except for advection from long night Cyclonic intrusions.
November 11 2015 (darker image), had about 1 arc minute higher horizon elevation compared to 2016 November 15. As such, Nov 2016 had warmer temperature -20.3 than 2015 -24.5 C. Photo captures were done with older telescope (darker image) and more powerful newer telescope (brighter image). So far, all comparisons with previous years in brighter very early February captures suggest a very thin sea ice at present. WD (Nov 15,2016).