I've produced an animated GIF of the part of the MODIS Arctic Mosaic where you can see the mouth of Nares Strait, the Lincoln Sea and the upper part of Fram Strait. Normally the Nares Strait, the water between Greenland and Ellesmere Island (see map) is closed by so-called ice arches or ice bridges that keep the ice in the Lincoln Sea from flowing out into Baffin Bay and further south where it melts more readily.
Until recently these ice bridges would remain intact until late summer, but this has changed since 2007. As can be read in the Broken Bridges of Nares article by Patrick Lockerby, the ice arches failed to form in 2007 and "the open Nares Strait discharged about 10% of the total ice loss" of the mean ice export at Fram Strait. Lockerby also says: "The Nares Strait and Lincoln Sea areas should be surveyed as a matter of urgency." So this is pretty important, especially as the arches have failed to form again last winter.
Below is the GIF I've produced, covering the period from June 7 up till June 14th. The quality isn't great, mostly because of interfering cloud cover and having to cut down resolution (the animation wouldn't work at first because the files was too big). I would suggest to keep your eyes focused on one spot instead of trying to take the whole picture in. Concentrate in particular on the mouth of Nares Strait on the middle left and the part of the Fram Strait in the lower right hand corner (click on the picture for a version with a higher resolution):
What's interesting to see is that big floe (probably around 50 km across) that is floating towards the mouth of Nares Strait. As Gareth Renowden put it in a recent blog post:
I suspect, however, that there may be a temporary halt to ice export as a big lump of what could/should be thicker ice looks about to get stuck in the narrow entrance to the strait. If it’s thick multi-year ice, it could be a formidable obstacle, but if it’s “Barber ice”, it might not last long.
The floe has arrived at the mouth and we'll see how much blocking it will do.
The ice in the right hand corner is interesting in conjunction with a question I asked in my previous blog post called Dire Straits, which comes down to: Could Nares Strait and Fram Strait become connected along the Greenland coast? Or in other words, could Greenland become circumnavigable? It's a bit far-fetched to expect that to happen this summer, but don't put anything by this alarmist. ;-)
I'm ending the post with a map from the Russian Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (AARI), which shows a forecast for Arctic ice movement (I've flipped the map as the original is seen from the Russian side upwards):
I'm not sure how to interpret the map as there are some buttons that you can press for a +1 to +6 day forecasts, and when I press +6 I get this map with today's date. In any case, the arrows are pointing upwards, so perhaps we'll see Knopfler Strait (that's my nickname for the eventual lead of open water between Nares and Fram) get bigger.
I'm a newbie at watching the ice up close through satellite images, so any suggestions or hints are most welcome. These files are quite big too, so I'm not sure how many TypePad will allow me to post. I'll have to see if I can make them smaller.
UPDATE: I managed to make the file smaller, so it works now. Phew.
UPDATE 2: I have two more animations of Nares Strait.
The first one is a great animation by Patrick Lockerby in his most recent article that shows Nares Strait and the big floe in greater detail:
The other one I made myself. It's a comparison between 2009 and 2010 (click for the big picture), inspired by Gareth's comment below describing the situation last year: