Usually the NH winter is a time when the bets are laid for the summer minimum. Friend Weasel was not too excited last year although things were, as they were pretty, but not astoundingly (see 2011) low. This year already astounding things are happening, or perhaps better put not happening, in the Arctic winter. Not that there is no ice, but there is a lot less ice than expected. Enough less that 2016 looks like a lock for the lowest global sea ice evah.
John Nielsen Gammon has been sending around a frame comparing how in 1922 the farthest north that a expedition could get was 81o 29', open ice this year. Andy Dessler tweeted it
All of the maps can be found at the NSIDC FTP site, they extend from 1893 to 1956 with versions for several months during the spring and summer. The map below is from 1946