As mentioned in the post on last week's weird winter weather, a large blocking high over the Beaufort Sea also caused a cracking that was a minor repeat of last year's spectacular and extensive cracking event. Although this one wasn't as notable (Jan. 1st image on the right was posted by Jim Hunt on the ASIF),
I'd like to share with you this article Chris Reynolds posted on his Dosbat blog a couple of days ago,
in which he discusses the effect thinning ice will probably have on the amount of cracking events occuring in the future:
Thinner Ice in Beaufort and Beaufort Breakups
Last February I posted about a break up of sea ice that occurred in the Beaufort Sea, now another break up has happened over the last week. It demands a post, but one looking at the bigger picture, indeed were I to try to go over what has happened in the last week the result would read surprisingly similar to my post of February 2013.
I'm still not totally convinced this is unusual, but there is reason from the scientific literature to expect more sea ice break ups in the Beaufort Sea.
First it's worth looking at the ice state as seen in polar orbiting infra red satellite images, source Environment Canada:
The Beaufort Sea is centre left of the image, fracturing is seen throughout the image, however Beaufort has been left heavily fractured, with fractures running along the coast of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago (towards the rose of compass points overlayed around the pole). As with last year this is because winds have set up a general clockwise motion of the pack placing ice under tension and giving rise to rapid parallel cracking.
Last year there was clear termination of cracks as they reached the thicker multi year ice, which could be identified from ASCAT, see first link of this post for details. That is less evident this year however it provided a clue that ice state in Beaufort (in 2013 virtually all first year ice following the 2012 record minimum) was playing a pivotal role in allowing the development of the fracturing.
Given the difficulty of ascertaining whether one, or even both of these events are unusual (I gave my opinion on that last year), perhaps a more fruitful question is this: Is there any reason to suspect that winter sea ice cracking might be becoming more intense than in the past?
Read the rest here.