The extent doesn't make me uncertain about my estimates for the season either. Neither do I think we are off to a slow start, for a number of reasons, anecdotal right now, but with closer examination, may have some "teeth".
Let's start with the quality of the ice following the February/March/ongoing fracturing event. My history with this is limited, but my perception is, in human memory, the pack has never been this small, nor this disintegrated. For quick evidence, lets peek at the Bremen map:http://www.iup.uni-bremen.de:8084/amsr2/arctic_AMSR2_nic.png
I've also done cross comparisons daily for the last week with other extent maps. What I have seen is, a pack that is constantly in motion, and constantly breaking open and closing leads, across the *entire* extent of the arctic. There's no bastion for MYI. There is no ice showing consistently as 100% extent anywhere. In key areas along the East Siberian Arctic and the Beaufort, there are significant areas showing up with between 10-20% open water. There may not be large numbers of dramatic open leads, but the quality of the ice itself *prevents* that - it's too broken up.
Next, consider anecdotally the Russian North-Pole 40 evacuation. Here's where it's located:http://neven1.typepad.com/.a/6a0133f03a1e37970b01901c7e88c8970b-pi
Now consider this shot from Rapidfire (best guess as to approximately where I think NP-40 is):http://lance-modis.eosdis.nasa.gov/imagery/subsets/?subset=Arctic_r05c03.2013144.terra.367
It isn't just fractured, its *granulated*. Looking at HYCOM, that's in the middle of what should be among the most stable ice in the arctic:
(check 80N,135W - that's the approximate long/lat). http://www7320.nrlssc.navy.mil/hycomARC/navo/arcticictnnowcast.gif
Frankly, I don't see how you could keep large, open leads clear with all of that small trash being driven around by the wind.
Lastly, here's my kicker: consider the current ice thickness and volume. I did some quick checking of the numbers at NP-40, the US Army has a buoy co-located with the AARI camp:http://imb.crrel.usace.army.mil/2012G.htm
The current readings show thickness of barely 2 meters. Once again, this is supposed to be part of the most durable part of the pack.
So, in short, I have no hope that we are better off than last year, or current readings offer any solace from the dire conclusions we've been drawing.