27 August 2010

Northwest Passage Opens (4th consecutive year)

Posted by Dan Satterfield

Data from the Univ. of Illinois shows the NW Passage is now mainly clear of ice.

Meteorologist Jeff Masters has a lot more about it, but the NW Passage is now mainly free of ice and is navigable. You can see a cool 30 day animation of the melt here. It looks like the NE Passage from Europe to Alaska is almost free as well. Masters says this is the 4th consecutive year that the passage has opened. It’s also the 4th time in recorded history.

The sea ice will continue to melt for a couple of more weeks but the big freeze is already starting above 80 degrees. There were already signs of summer’s end when I was in Greenland three weeks ago.

The real story is not so much the amount of ice on the surface but the overall volume of the ice. This too is dropping very rapidly.  Look at the graphic below from the Polar Science Center at the University of Washington.

Dr. Masters has an excellent detailed writeup on this with a commentary that is spot on.

The surface sea ice melt will not reach a new record this year but it will be close.

The great melt off at the top of the World continues.

Predictions made 20 years ago by Hansen and others that climate change would show up first and most strongly in the Arctic have certainly been proven true…