Methinks there's circumstantial illusions created by a chrono-illogical snapshot. The shadow effect NW of the big Bergs and off the coast exaggerates the appearance of open water in the 2016 shot. Obviously due to a strong offshore DISPERSAL and polynia creation event with warm incoming air for a number of days coming in off Canada. This cherry pick of an inverse snapshot
Shadow effect NW of the bergs?? I think not.
Cherry pick? Not intended.
Around this time last year the Beaufort was going through a torrid time. I expect many year on year comparisons of the Beaufort around this time +/- two weeks will look quite similar.
I too don't intend to crack up trying to quantify it. These are just snapshots.
Jim Hunt has archived some more images during that April/May period last year here :http://greatwhitecon.info/resources/arctic-regional-graphs/beaufort-sea-ice-graphs/
From a vertical perspective, in my opinion it looks better there now. But that is compared against an early opening last year. Of course it is difficult to gauge what the true thickness is underneath. Although Thomas' thickness charts posted earlier do suggest it is thicker at the periphery at least.
It will be interesting to see how things develop over the Beaufort in the coming weeks.