The fast ice in Nares Strait is finally giving way, relatively late again compared to recent years, after staying open over winter for a relatively long time as well. In the period the ice arch finally formed, it even got pushed back and forth a bit, probably making it stronger. But now it's failing, enabling multi-year ice floes to be transported from the Central Arctic Basin to Baffin Bay.
Commenter oren posted the following animation of LANCE-MODIS satellite images on the Arctic Sea Ice Forum to show how the arch has been breaking up in the last couple of days, which is always impressive and fun to watch:
There's an added angle to the Nares Strait story this year, with professor in oceanography Andreas Muenchow and a bunch of other scientists going into Nares Strait and as far as Petermann Glacier to make all kinds of measurements. Will the strait clear enough and fast enough so that Swedish icebreaker Oden can take them there?
Andreas explains on his Icy Seas blog:
Oceanography of Nares Strait Ice Flushing
I need the ice out of Nares Strait, a 20 mile wide and 300 miles long pathway to the North Pole between northern Canada and Greenland. The ice blocks our way to Petermann Fjord where a large glacier pushes thick ice out so sea as a floating ice shelf. We plan to drill through the floating section of the glacier that is about as thick as the Empire State Building is high. The ship to get us there is the Swedish icebreaker Oden. She is passing the Faroe Islands to the north-west of Scotland and will arrive in 2 weeks at Thule Air Force Base where we will meet her.
Image of northern Greenland (top right) and Ellesmere Island (center) showing open water as black, land as gray, and sea ice as gray/white. The two red dots are Thule Air Force Base in the south and Petermann Glacier in the north. Note the bands of black water along the coast of Ellesmere Island that result from east to west blowing winds that move ice offshore and reduce the southward flow in Nares Strait.
The voyage from Thule to Petermann usually takes about 2-3 days, but if the sea ice does not flush out with the generally southward currents, then it may take a week or two wrecking havoc to our busy science schedule. So, why is the ice still lingering in Nares Strait this year?
Read the rest here.