Arctic Heart Beat and Disappearing Old Ice

Have a look at this beautiful movie that shows how the Arctic Ocean moves its oldest and thickest ice around from 1987 through 2013:

[Credits: Dr. Mark Tschudi, University of Colorado and NOAA’s]

The Beaufort Gyre moves ice off western Canada and Alaska clockwise while the Fram Strait outflow between eastern Greenland and Spitsbergen exports much of the ice into the North Atlantic Ocean with the East Greenland Slope Current. The dividing line between the westward flux (into the Beaufort Gyre) and the eastward flux (into Fram Strait) stretch out to the north of the Canadian Archipelago and Greenland.

My only quibble is that, according to the movie, no old ice exits via Nares Strait or the Canadian Archipelago which is not true. During our field work in Nares Strait from 2003 through 2012 we always met rather heavy, thick, and old ice streaming south:

A graduate student in our oceanography program, Autumn Kidwell, is credited with directing me to this movie. Oh, and the Norwegian Ice Service in Tromso has a job opening for a smart remote sensing person 😉

3 responses to “Arctic Heart Beat and Disappearing Old Ice

  1. Must admit that from my view, I saw a substantial flow of ice entering Nares Strait in the above movie, however, it did not show it passing beyond the mouth, but what is most alarming is the rapid reduction in old ice. Another something to think about.

    Can you please explain the gap between the coast and the ice to the left of Nares Strait in the earlier frames. What would cause the ice to hold off the coast in that way?

    • Yes, the disappearing thick, old, multi-year ice is THE pre-cursor to an Arctic Ocean free of ice in the summer that I feel is only a few years (not decades) away.

      I had not noticed that the early frames indicate thin ice or open water to the north of Nares Strait. My first guess would be that there were missing or problematic data near the coast in the early satellite record, but a strong and sustained wind from the north through Nares Strait in the summer does keep a portion of the Lincoln Sea within 50-100 miles of the entrance to Nares Strait open as it did in Aug.-2003. The feature you indicated, however, is farther to the east, though, and I would fall back onto my first guess.

      Sharp eyes you got.

  2. Reblogged this on Spirit In Action and commented:
    Thank you for sharing this!

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