April 18, 2013
Beaufort Sea Ice Cracks Once More
The ice covering the Beaufort Sea has already found itself split by fractures many hundreds of miles long more than once this year. Now it is cracking at the seams once again, as this picture taken by the Terra satellite yesterday reveals:
You can still make out the tracery of refrozen cracks from the previous fracturing events "underneath" the latest set. The question now is whether these new fissures will freeze over too, or whether this heralds the early onset of the "real" melting season in the area.
For comparison purposes, this is how the same area looked on May 8th last year, which is as far back as the images available through NASA's EOSDIS Worldview web site go:
This animation created from Worldview images by "A-Team" for the Arctic Sea Ice blog reveals what happened next last year:
Something similar will happen again this year. The 64 trillion dollar question is "When?"
[Addendum] A-Team points out that "For cracks, infrared is far better than MODIS visible", so here's a slightly cloudy AVHRR image courtesy of Environment Canada. It shows a smaller area of the Beaufort Sea on the same day, albeit with the image rotated compared to the visible light ones above. The different shades of grey represent different temperatures. It allows you to better visualise the new cracks superimposed on the older ones, and also allows easier comparison with the February images linked to above:
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