The two Arctic voyages we've been following closely this summer have both come to a premature conclusion. Discussions about that have spawned a debate about how much ice there actually is in the Northwest Passage through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago this year, and whether the passage is or will be navigable this year without the assistance of an icebreaker. The main route through the Parry Channel and McClure Strait certainly looks as though it will remain impassable, but what of the southern route? A few days ago I found myself engaged in a heated discussion on Facebook (now sadly consigned to the great memory hole in the sky) with someone who insisted there was lots of ice in Dease Strait because RadarSat showed it to be there! To start with today, here's how the AMSR2 sensor sees things from space at the moment, courtesy of the University of Hamburg:
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As we reported two days ago, the Russian diesel-electric icebreaker Admiral Makarov was heading north across the Central Arctic Basin to rescue Sébastian Roubinet and Vincent Berthet, the crew of the catamaran Babouchka, who said that they had been surprised by "a sudden change in conditions". That sudden change was captured from space by the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer 2 (AMSR2 for short) aboard the Japanese SHIZUKU satellite. Here's an animation built from high resolution images derived from AMSR2 data, and provided by the University of Hamburg. It covers the period from August 21st to August 31st:
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The set of cracks in the Arctic sea ice across the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas that we showed three days ago have now refrozen, and some new ones have opened up nearer the north coast of Alaska. However whilst that has been going on another set of "cracks" over on the Russian side of the Arctic have been growing ever wider. Here's how the Laptev Sea looks from space this morning:
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