Monday, July 18, 2011

Tracking Arctic Sea Ice Loss via the Fram Strait

Updated/Edited 7/01/11

NOTE: I corrected the title; you may need to update your bookmark.

Most recent:
Tracking the Fram Strait sea ice is proving. Closer to the coast of Greenland the ice is moving northward, further  east it is moving southwest and where the two meet apparently anything can happen. Additionally, the floes change in size and shape rapidly at times, so from day to day it's a bit of now you see it, now you don't. It's been very cloudy since the 27th of July with the result being I've lost  track of, or still can't see because of the clouds, almost all the floes I'd numbered. Cryosphere Today has a 42 day loop I like. Their high color loop is here.

The Fram Strait is second only to ice melt in the loss of ice from the Arctic Ocean. In terms of old, thick multi-year ice, it plays a vital role. Ice is lost via the Fram Strait because ocean water flows basically from the Pacific through the Arctic and then out into the Atlantic. This is simplified, but essentially correct.

The Strait is the deepest point through which sea ice can escape into the Atlantic. Looking at an image of the Fram Strait and not knowing the ice you see there in the melt season is moving, not standing still, you would think the ice there hardly melts in the summer. The reality is, it's a conveyor belt of sea ice flowing out of the Arctic Ocean.

One of the more interesting aspects of this is that the ice at the Arctic Ocean side of the straight, where it exits through the strait, often looks like solid pack ice even though ice is obviously moving rapidly out of the Arctic Ocean.

I thought it would be interesting and informative to track the ice flowing through the straight for a while. I've gone back to the 14th to start and will track for a week, at least, longer if it seems useful to continue. I'd like to have an idea of how long it takes ice to get from the opening to the end of the flow of ice. Because of the low resolution, I will be tracking through a small percentage of the ice flowing through the strait. I may add overview images to help get sense of the whole journey.

NOTE: I'd like to make this an animation/slide show. If you know of an on-line site where I can do that and link to it, please let me know.


Click images to view them at a higher resolution.

Beginning Image:

Day 1: 7/14/11

Day 2: 7/15/11

Day 3: 7/16/11

Day 4: 7/17/11

Day 5: 7/18/11

Day 6: 7/19/11

Day 7: 7/20/11

Day 8: 7/21/11

Day 9: 7/22/11

Day 10: 7/23/11

Day 12: 7/25/11

Day 13: 7/26/11
Day 14: 7/27/11

Day 17: 7/30/11

Day 18: 7/31/11

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