Sunday, July 19, 2009

Northwest Passage Becoming Alarmingly Passable

Jeff Masters says: "The fabled Northwest Passage is more than half clear now, and has a good chance of melting free for the third consecutive year--and third time in recorded history." This map shows "ice extent as measured by an AMSR-E microwave satellite sensor on July 15, 2009."

ice-free northwest passage map

The sea ice extent in the Arctic in June was the 4th-lowest ever recorded. (Records only go back to 1979, but it's unlikely any year before that would have challenged the recent records since at least the Medieval Warm Period.) And, Masters notes, "The ice-free seas that nearly surround Greenland now have contributed to temperatures of 2 - 3°C above average over the island over the past ten days. With clear skies and above-average temperatures likely over most of the island for at least the next week, we can expect near-record July melting over portions of the Greenland Ice Sheet this month." Nothing ominous about that!

12 comments:

Andrew said...

The southern route of the NW passage, the route attempted by Franklin, is shown as normally free of pernnial sea ice at the annual minimum. See map here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:2007_Arctic_Sea_Ice.jpg

Chachy said...

Well, I don't know. This map paints a different picture. But I'm inclined to think Masters knows what he's talking about.

Anonymous said...

How much Canada will have to charge to let ships pass through? Someone will have to pay for the carbon emission.

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