The take-home message I get from that is just how heterogeneous sea ice is. Each one of those crazy white lines represents a ridge, which can be up to ten times the thickness of the flat grey/brown areas in between. ~50% of the entire Arctic ice volume is in the ridges. Eyeballing that picture, however good the resolution, isn't going to tell us that much about how much ice is actually there. I guess this is why the ice models used in PIPS (and PIOMAS etc) model ice as a statistical distribution within each pixel, rather than a single value per pixel.
As for your question, it would help if we had even one more picture from the same satellite to compare! Danp, where did you get it? Are there any pictures available for previous years, where the subsequent melt behaviour is known?
I totally agree. It was eye-opening to see the crazy map of features at this detail level. It may be asking a little much of this data source to find truly comparable images, but because of the built-in geographic restriction, if we can find any, they will at least be from nearly the same area of the southern Beaufort. I only just decided to go digging.
The public data is available from REVERB (also one of my main sources for Terra/Aqua data), via geographic search. Here's the search I did to find this data:http://tinyurl.com/kyerueu
The dataset is "L1B Registered Radiance at the sensor" (not the expedited equivalent). The visible/near IR bands within the hdf file are 1, 2, 3N, 3B. I used 3N, 2, 1 as RGB, but you don't gain much over just a grayscale image from ch. 1, which is in the green. (3B is an offset backward-looking channel for stereoscopic images).
I just repeated the search (July 1-31) as a repeated annual search since 2000 and came up with 358 results, including the 5 from this year (2 of which are right at the shoreline or just inland). So it does look like it might be a plausible project to compare ice at the southern edge of the Beaufort year-to-year in this fashion.