Do you expect a 2nd place, MH?

1st-highly unlikely

2nd- good chance but weather will need a spell of favourable melt conditions at some stage

3rd or lower - quite possible if weather stays favourable for ice retention.

Given gerontocrat's summary below, I think that "good chance" for 2nd (i.e. 3.96M km2 JAXA Extent) is a very, very good chance:

<snip> In every year from 2007 to 2019 remaining melt results in an extent below 3.96 million km2, which was the 2nd lowest extent in 2019.

But the ice does not care what we say about it. It will tell us exactly how much it will melt over the next few weeks.

This poem comes to mind:

*Ice asks no questions, *

presents no arguments,

reads no newspapers,

listens to no debates.

It is not burdened by ideology,

and carries no political baggage

as it changes from solid to liquid.

It just melts. ~ Henry Pollack

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But of course, we like to guess at the future.

Here are some measures of our predictive ability:

**Improved Volume prediction accuracy as melt season observations become available. **R-square reduction in variability derived from R values posted by Stephan at

https://imgur.com/a/O82kzZZ Linear model estimate for 2020 September average PIOMAS Volume before any 2020 observations:

**3.9M km3** (1.2 – 6.6), (95% of cases expected to fall within 1.2 – 6.6M km3, i.e. +/- 2.7M km3).

With MARCH observation as predictor, confidence interval (CI) reduction for September average Volume estimate: 4%. Width of 95% CI with March observation: +/- 2.6M km3.

With APRIL Volume observation, confidence interval reduction: 7%. Width of 95% CI with April observation: +/- 2.5M km3.

With MAY Volume observation, confidence interval reduction: 32%. Width of 95% CI with May observation: +/- 1.9M km3.

With JUNE Volume observation, confidence interval reduction: 63%. Width of 95% CI with June observation: +/- 1.0M km3.

With JULY Volume observation, confidence interval reduction: 83%. Width of 95% CI with July observation: +/- 0.5M km3.

With AUGUST Volume observation, conf. interval reduction: 94%. Width of 95% CI with August observation: +/- 0.2M km3.

**The same approach for Extent shows the R2 reduction by having observations at the end of March, April and May is insignificant. Estimate error reduction only reaches 22% by the end of June, and 56% at the end of July.**