Sea Ice Melting Season started late, but not slow

It looks like someone pulled the trigger. While extent and area are still hundreds of thousands square kilometers behind 2012, Siberia and Alaska enjoy already sunny temperatures above 30°C. Also sea ice concentration on the Asian side is significantly lower from pole to coast than along the western part of the Arctic Basin.

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Last Sighting of the Ice Bird

The first sighting of the ice bird was in March, 13 this year. He kept hidden until the day before yesterday. Looks fallen now, whether the approaching ice fairy brings him back to life - future will tell. The Arctic vanishes in all her unique beauty, both images were archived to capture the fleetingness of a fragile environment.

First Double Zoom Features Phytoplankton Bloom

Comparing day to day changes using Arctic satellite images is quite a complicated task. The files are huge, two displays are indispensable and synchronization of zoom level, latitude and longitude a pain. So here at arctic.io the - eventually - first synchronized double-zoom viewer was launched today.

Basically it appears as two zoom windows side by side. There are even two mouse pointers: The white one is yours and the red one points automatically to the same location within the other zoom window. All usual functions are still working. Try out right click to save images, mouse wheel to zoom out or in and click to focus.

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Just out of Curiosity

credit: NASA

No, this is not the future ice free Arctic. This stitched image has been taken by a little rover just three days after it survived a seven minutes terror landing on a remote planet with nearly no atmosphere, where carbon dioxide remains frozen at the poles.

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Current Speedlimits in Greenland

Rignot, E. and J. Mouginot (2012), Ice flow in Greenland for the International Polar Year 2008–2009, Geophys. Res. Lett., 39, L11501, doi:10.1029/2012GL051634.

Abstract: The ice motion map reveals various flow regimes, ranging from patterned enhanced flow into a few large glaciers in the cold, low precipitation areas of north Greenland; to diffuse, enhanced flow into numerous, narrow, fast-moving glaciers in the warmer, high precipitation sectors of northwest and southeast Greenland. We find that the 100 fastest glaciers (v > 800 m/yr) drain 66% of the ice sheet in area, marine-terminating ...

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Melting, Burning, Eddying, Swirling, Rejuvenating and Draining

A lot of things happened in the Arctic below the clouds a huge cyclone brought into the North weeks ago. I took the opportunity of a relatively thin cloud cover to zoomify a full Arctic mosaic mega image with all 24,000 x 24,000 pixel.

There was much to discover: The Nares Strait opened in the meantime letting the oldest and thickest sea ice escape out of the Lincoln Sea into warmer Baffin Bay. Last year's phytoplankton bloom in Barents was colorful and spectacular, looks like these microscopic lifeforms the foodchain is build upon meet again at same place.

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First Data from AMSR-2 - SHIZUKU

Click images to zoom

Left: acquired from July 3 to July 4. Whitish-yellow color parts indicate areas with heavy rain or sea ice, light blue color areas are with little water vapor in the atmosphere or thin clouds, the dark blue color sections are areas with more water vapor in the atmosphere or thicker clouds, and the black color parts are areas that were not observed.

Right: same day. Here white indicates areas covered by ocean ice, blue is sea areas, gray is land, and black areas were not observed.

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Just to compare 2012 and 2011

When I missed some weeks of the melting season - occupied with lower latitude stuff - I usually check two things first: Neven's Sea Ice Blog and the composite images from the Canadian Ice Service. The former because of the comprehensive biweekly ASI overviews and the latter because of the mostly cloudfree and high resolution quality.

These false colour composites image highlight colour differences between sea ice and cloud. As a result, sea ice and snow appear light blue and clouds appear white (and purple over water) and are created every Wednesday using the preceding week’s images.

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Greenland Report November 2011

This report from last November remained a while in the local pipeline before getting blogged. It is a comprehensive and dense reading. Also it it is one of the longest - in terms of scrolling - webpage ever seen. I chose to zoomify it to get an overview and at a first glance I recognized all charts are going down. Except - still naturally - surface mass balance along the K-transect over elevation.

Everybody equipped with good pattern matching wetware will see a link to the sea ice extent graphs of the years 2007 and 2010.

Here are both highlights and a link of the report:

  • Total ice sheet mass loss in 2011 was 70% larger than the 2003-09 average annual loss rate of -250 Gt y-1. According to satellite gravity data obtained since 2002, ice sheet mass loss is accelerating.
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North Pole painted by Mercator (published 1596)

Gerardus Mercator was born in 1512 and invented the famous Mercator projection showing the planet on a square. Although this cylindrical projection maps Africa smaller as Greenland it is still used (Google Maps) because the linear scale is equal in all directions. His son Arnold made the first exact map of Cologne, where I'm writing these lines.

I'm ready to discuss below the medieval opening of the Northern Sea Route as seen above and any circumnavigation of Greenland, however I'm more interested in this circle of (ice) bergs.

Click ...

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Hudson Bay Break Up

In May 2005 NASA's Earth Observatory reported:

With the coming of spring, the ice on Canada’s Hudson Bay has begun to break up. Large chunks of ice float near the eastern shore of the bay, while to the west, the center of the bay remains frozen.

Earlier this month a similar photo was taken by the Aqua satellite. I leave it as an exercise to visitors to decide which of the above megapixel zooms was taken 2005-05-21 or 2012-04-06. It seems the thin ice can not withstand usual April weather any longer. At least the Chukchi Sea tells ...

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New Zooms: Greenland, Kara Sea, Barents Sea, Bathymetry

Recently rendered zooms showing rivers on Greenland, cloud streets appearing over fractured sea ice, melting pattern close to Kara Sea and the sea bed of upcoming claims.

Burning Sea Ice

My favorite radar image this year so far. It shows Franz-Josef-Land unusually ice free and the ice edge throwing flames direction South. Anybody keen to speculate what's going on?

What's wrong with this image?

In some parts of the Arctic it seems the melting season has already started. Neven Acropolis writes at TP where, why and how much.

[Click the image to zoom.]

50 Days with CGC HEALY in the Ice

Having a sailing webcam in the Arctic fascinated me from the first day I’ve found the link. Although it is only one image per hour the insight is incomparable, well despite spending some time in the Arctic for yourself on an icebreaker.

But the tremendous amount of photos leads to perception stress and some kind of overview was needed to grasp to whole picture and not to get lost in details. I hope the above result of a few hours number crunching serves this purpose (click the image).

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Is this the Arctic's Polar Ice Pack July 202X?

More Envisat Radar Images

Terry started to contribute with more daily Envisat radar zooms - highly appreciated.

If you want to compare changes from day to day open the links in multiple browser tabs and switch between them.


I'll update this list as new links arrive. So far we have:

Credit goes DTU Space and seaice.dk.

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Arctic Zoom with fresh Snow

Another high resolution Arctic zoom image contributed by Terry. It features a clear view on most parts of the open North-West-Passage and fresh snow covering Greenland's North.

Microwave versus Envisat Radar Satellite Images

Envisat's radar images reveal a high fragmentation of the sea ice. It seems the algorithms using microwave echo to generate concentration maps are not optimized for the current state of the 'ice pack'.

While ESA's satellite operates with a resolution of 30mx30m, the pixel size of the AMSR-E instrument is factor 200 lower. Compare out for example the North of the Laptev Sea.

Also interesting is how the different microwave echo approaches depend on the resolution to calculate sea ice extent.

The NSDIC prefers a low resolution instrument for historical reasons and sees the extent of 2011 currently ...

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A normal Day on Earth

A usual view from NASA's Terra satellite. Captured during day 2011-05-21. (Size: 8192x x 4096)