The southern route of the Northwest Passage is wide open. The first image is a close-up showing the blue open water; the second, due to the clouds, is an infrared image showing the entire NWP. The parry Channel is clearing out enough to be called unambiguously open, too, but given the clods, we'll wait a bit. It has become very navigable, so far as I can tell.
UPDATE 8/13: The image below is roughly outlined by the yellow box above and shows the southern route almost completely clear of ice.
UPDATE 6: 8/10/11
The Parry Channel is NAVIGABLE.
The southern route is just gettin' more opener. This image is from 8/7/11.
UPDATE 5 8/4/11
Northwest Passage unambiguously OPEN
UPDATE 4 7/31/11
UPDATE 3 7/30/11
Or is that opening? On July 5th I wrote:
I'll be very surprised if both passages are not open by the end of the month, and see a 50/50 chance they will be open in the next two weeks. At minimum, all the ice should be broken up, even if not flushed out, and may be navigable.With two days to go, I call the Northwest Passage open via one of the southern route variations. The ice in the southern route in the images below is not solid and the resolution on the images is not a lot better than about 1 mile. Certainly, any Arctic-going vessels could make the trip, or with an ice breaker leading the way. I consider it fair to call it open if a ship designed for the area seems likely to pass through. We looked at the southern route before:
|The Northwest Passage appears to be navigable as of 7/28/2011.|
UPDATE 1 7/29: This blow-up of the area marked with the blue line above shows there is some cloudiness obscuring the image. The ice area/coverage is probably no greater than in the areas marked with red lines.
Here's the full southern route on the 27th for reference. The rest of the passage is definitely open.
|The Northwest Passage on 7/27/2011.|
Feel free to quibble, but bear in mind a ship already made the Northeast Passage with assistance a couple weeks ago, well before I called it open. If they can ship through it, it's open, no? If you do choose to quibble with my analysis, then 1. eat my grits! and 2. don't get too cocky because it will likely be unambiguous soon. And there are still two days before I'll have to eat crow for what I said on the 5th.