My animation muse Nick Barnes has led me once again to explore a new area, this time on the other side of the Arctic, where the breaking up of an important ice bridge is temporarily shifting our attention to the Northern Sea Route.
Let me first show you an image of the Siberian side of the Arctic:
Komsomolets Island, October Revolution Island and Bolshevik Island. It's easy to see why we alarmists might be interested in this part of the Arctic. I think one of those islands would make a great capital for our soon to be established one world government. Schmidt Island must be in honour (avant la lettre) of the scientist who will make it all happen. OK, enough kidding around, back to business:
According to Wikipedia, Vilkitsky Strait is the strait between the Taimyr Peninsula and Bolshevik Island. It seems to be quite important if you want to navigate the Northern Sea Route. As can be seen on this NOAA image the ice in the Arctic Basin usually reaches all the way to to the northern tip of the Severnaya Zemlya Archipelago, so if you want to make it to the Laptev Sea you have to steer through Vilkitsky Strait:
Enter animation. The quality isn't fantastic because of a persistent cloudiness on that side of the Arctic, but the break-up of Vilkitsky Strait is visible enough. I've collected the best MODIS images from the past few weeks and rotated the image for a better visualisation. Keep your eyes on the strait:
So it looks like this part of the Northern Sea Route is about to clear and open up to the big polynya on the other side. The big obstacles are in the East Siberian Sea where purportedly a lot of thick ice has been residing, as evidenced by the slow melt so far. We'll take a look at that region and its New Siberian Islands some time soon, once Nick Barnes prompts us to do so.
Update July 11th: Added day 192. The Strait is clear of ice.