Can you find any place where I said it was not open?
But do we know for sure? Can you say with absolute authority that the photos are the real deal? I certainly cannot say that with any authority nor can I say that they are not. All I am saying, is there are different scientific opinions out there re the amount of ice melt in the Arctic this past summer.
foxfire asked :
Is that northwest passage open right now? Does anybody know?
For the second year in a row, the fabled Northwest Passage has opened in the Arctic"thanks to a sea-ice melt that has already shrunk the polar cap to the second smallest extent ever recorded. And with a few more weeks to go in the summer thaw season, 2008 could surpass 2007 as the smallest amount of sea ice on record, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).
This year's record-breaking melt was, to some extent, set up by the 2007 season"also a record-breaker. More open ocean means more trapped heat in the water, which means that thinner ice forms during the long Arctic winter. Thinner ice melts more readily when temperatures rise. So, despite a relatively cool summer this year, the sea ice is just melting away.
Northwest Passage navigable, says federal ice authority
Randy Boswell , Canwest News Service
Published: Wednesday, August 13, 2008
The Northwest Passage has been declared "navigable" again this summer by the federal government's ice authority, the latest indication of how Canada's polar frontier is being transformed by retreating ice and the prospect of increased shipping, tourism and resource development.
While noting that the southern route of the passage is "not yet open water" and that "lots of ice" remains in the Larsen Sound area east of Victoria Island, Canadian Ice Service senior forecaster Luc Desjardins told Canwest News Service on Wednesday that "a navigable corridor surely exists now as one can avoid the various ice floes."
Vast stretches of the passage in the western Arctic are fully cleared of ice, part of an "unprecedented" opening of the Beaufort Sea caused by thinning ice, strong winds and ocean currents that have pushed floes north, well beyond the favoured southern shipping lane.
A huge 19 square mile (55 square km) ice shelf in Canada's northern Arctic broke away last month and the remaining shelves have shrunk at a "massive and disturbing" rate, the latest sign of accelerating climate change in the remote region, scientists said on Tuesday.
They said the Markham Ice Shelf, one of just five remaining ice shelves in the Canadian Arctic, split away from Ellesmere Island in early August. They also said two large chunks totaling 47 square miles had broken off the nearby Serson Ice Shelf, reducing it in size by 60 percent.
"The changes ... were massive and disturbing," said Warwick Vincent, director of the Centre for Northern Studies at Laval University in Quebec.
"These changes are irreversible under the present climate and indicate that the environmental conditions that have kept these ice shelves in balance for thousands of years are no longer present," he said.
Mueller said the total amount of ice lost from the shelves along Ellesmere Island this summer totalled 215 square km " more than three times the area of New York's Manhattan island.
The figure is more than 10 times the amount of ice shelf cover that scientists estimated on 30 July would vanish from around the island this summer.
"Reduced sea ice conditions and unusually high air temperatures have facilitated the ice shelf losses," says Luke Copland of the University of Ottawa.
"Extensive new cracks across remaining parts of the largest remaining ice shelf, the Ward Hunt, mean that it will continue to disintegrate in the coming years," he said.
The first sign of serious recent erosion in the five shelves came in late July, when sheets of ice totalling almost 21 square km broke off the Ward Hunt shelf. Since then the shelf has lost another 22 square km.
Ellesmere Island was once home to a single enormous ice shelf of around 9000 square km. All that is left of that shelf today are the four much smaller shelves that together cover only about 800 square km.
Scientists say the ice shelves, which contain unique ecosystems that had yet to be studied, will not be replaced because they took so long to form.
The rapid melting of ice in the Canadian Arctic archipelago is a cause for concern to authorities in Ottawa, who fear foreign ships might try to sail through the waters without seeking permission first.
Last week Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Canada would toughen reporting requirements for ships entering its waters in the Far North, where some of those territorial claims are disputed by the US and other countries.
Three Ice Shelves Breaking Up in Arctic
Michel Comte, AFP
Sept. 3, 2008 -- Two ice shelves in Canada's far north have lost massive sections since August while a third ice shelf now is adrift in the Arctic Ocean, said researchers Wednesday who blamed climate change.
The entire 50 square-kilometer (19 square-mile) Markham Ice Shelf off the coast of Ellesmere Island broke away in early August and is now adrift, while two sections of the nearby Serson Ice Shelf detached, reducing its mass by 60 percent or 122 square kilometers (47 square miles).
Ward Hunt Ice Shelf, which halved in July, lost an additional 22 square kilometers (8.5 square miles).
"These changes are irreversible under the present climate and indicate that the environmental conditions that have kept these ice shelves in balance for 4,000 years are no longer present," said Trent University's polar expert Derek Mueller.
Canada's summer ice shelf losses now total 214 square kilometers (82.5 square miles), which is more than three times the area of Manhattan Island, the researchers said.
Extensive cracks in Ward Hunt, the largest remaining ice shelf, means it will continue to disintegrate in the coming years, said Luke Copland, director Ottawa University's cryospheric research lab.
Copland blamed "very warm temperatures" and "reduced sea ice" for the crumbling ice shelves.
The sea ice usually braced the shelves and without it, wind and waves more easily broke them apart, he explained.
The coast of Ellesmere Island has also warmed an average of two degrees (Celsius) in the last 50 years, he said. In winter, temperatures are now five degrees warmer, making it more difficult for ice lost in summer to recover in winter.
"We see that warming is concentrated in the winter," Copland said. "It's part of global warming. When we warm up the planet it gets concentrated close to he poles."
"Usually the ice shelves would use the winter to recover from the previous summer. They would reform, ... but the ice shelf can't recover in the winter anymore."
"We have now reached a threshold where (the environment) is too warm for these ice shelves to exist anymore," he said. "What it tells us is that the Arctic is changing."
"It underscores the rapidity of the changes, how quickly things are moving along in the Arctic," Mueller said. "Its not just the ice shelves that are changing. These changes are occurring in concert with sea ice reduction and other indications of climate change."
The Ellesmere ice shelves were formed some 4,500 years ago, composed of sea ice, accumulated snow and glacier ice up to 40 meters (131 feet) thick.
The detached pieces broke into numerous 'ice islands' (tabular icebergs) whose fate could take many forms, said researchers.
Martin Jeffries of the National Science Foundation and University of Alaska Fairbanks, and who has studied the Ellesmere ice shelves since 1982, said they could float along the northern edge of Queen Elizabeth Islands toward the Beaufort Sea or enter the Canadian Archipelago.
The Canadian Ice Service is tracking the broken pieces.
But the fact remains there is more ice there than there was this time last year, however marginal the increase is. Which is all that I was saying in the first place. Is that northwest passage open right now? Does anybody know?
But the fact remains there is more ice there than there was this time last year, however marginal the increase is.
The Canadian Press
September 3, 2008 at 6:02 PM EDT
TORONTO " Canadian scientists are sounding another environmental alarm with word that a massive Arctic ice shelf has broken free and is now adrift in the Arctic Ocean.
The 50-square-kilometre Markham Ice Shelf broke away in early August, researchers say, and two large sections representing 60 per cent of the Serson Ice Shelf have also become detached.
That means some 214-square-kilometres of Arctic ice shelves have been lost this summer, or about a quarter of what was left. It's the equivalent of more than three times the area of the Manhattan island.
“It's astounding what's happening up there right now,” said Derek Mueller, a researcher at Trent University in Peterborough, Ont.
The ice shelf loss comes at a time when Arctic sea ice is at a near-record low and other significant climate change indicators are being observed in the north, Mr. Mueller said.
New cracks are forming in the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf " the largest one remaining " and it is expected to continue to disintegrate in the coming years.
More than 90 per cent of Canada's ice shelves have been lost over the past century, the bulk of those during a warm period in the 1930s and 1940s. And temperatures in the Arctic are even warmer now.
Conditions that have kept the ice shelves in balance for some 4,000 years are no longer present, Mr. Mueller said.
“The ice shelves are not regrowing,” he said.
Mr. Mueller also said the ice shelves are home to unique forms of life that are at risk.
“They are actually a habitat for microbial life,” Mr. Mueller said. “Not only are we losing the ice, but we're losing these unique ecosystems that go with the ice, that depend on the ice to be there.”
All I am saying, is there are different scientific opinions out there re the amount of ice melt in the Arctic this past summer.
Conditions in context
In a typical year, the daily rate of ice loss starts to slow in August as the Arctic begins to cool. By contrast, in August 2008, the daily decline rate remained steadily downward and strong.
The average daily ice loss rate for August 2008 was 78,000 square kilometers per day (30,000 square miles per day). This is the fastest rate of daily ice loss that scientists have ever observed during a single August. Losses were 15,000 square kilometers per day (5,800 square miles per day) faster than in August 2007, and 27,000 square kilometers per day (10,000 square miles per day) faster than average.
This August's rapid ice loss reflects a thin sea ice cover that needed very little additional energy to melt out
But the fact remains there is more ice there than there was this time last year, however marginal the increase is.
While slightly above the record-low minimum set in 2007, this season further reinforces the strong negative trend in summertime sea ice extent observed over the past thirty years.
NSIDC will issue a formal press release at the beginning of October with full analysis of the possible causes behind this year's low ice conditions, particularly interesting aspects of the melt season, the set up going into the winter growth season ahead, and graphics comparing this year to the long-term record.
The legendary passage starts in Alaska amidst impressive testimonies
to the Inuit culture before the HANSEATIC crosses the Canadian Arctic, the heart of the Northwest Passage. Thrill to encounters with caribou, polar bears and white whales " and presumably with our sister ship, the MS BREMEN, as it masters this passage in the opposite direction at the same time. Having safely stowed the uplifting feeling of conquering the Northwest Passage in your memories, take full advantage of the many Zodiac landings to explore the imposing glacial coasts of Greenland.
Autumn air temperatures have climbed to record levels in the Arctic due to major losses of sea ice as the region suffers more effects from a warming trend dating back decades, according to a new report.
The annual report issued by researchers at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other experts is the latest to paint a dire picture of the impact of climate change in the Arctic.
It found that autumn air temperatures are at a record 5 °C above normal in the Arctic because of the major loss of sea ice in recent years, which allows more solar heating of the ocean.
A sea ice free summer Arctic within 30 years?
Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA
James E. Overland
Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, NOAA, Seattle, Washington, USA
September 2008 followed 2007 as the second sequential year with an extreme summer Arctic sea ice extent minimum. Although such a sea ice loss was not indicated until much later in the century in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 4th Assessment Report, many models show an accelerating decline in the summer minimum sea ice extent during the 21st century. Using the observed 2007/2008 September sea ice extents as a starting point, we predict an expected value for a nearly sea ice free Arctic in September by the year 2037. The first quartile of the distribution for the timing of September sea ice loss will be reached by 2028. Our analysis is based on projections from six IPCC models, selected subject to an observational constraints. Uncertainty in the timing of a sea ice free Arctic in September is determined based on both within‐model contributions from natural variability and between‐model differences.
Received 6 February 2009; accepted 5 March 2009; published 3 April 2009.
Citation: Wang, M., and J. E. Overland (2009), A sea ice free summer Arctic within 30 years?, Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L07502, doi:10.1029/2009GL037820.
Faster shipping, vast new energy resources " what's not to love about the melting ice cap?
"You can argue about the causal factors but there's no question that the Arctic is melting," said Rob Huebert, associate director of the Center for Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary.
"The world is realizing that there's another underutilized ocean and a treasure trove of resources out there," Huebert said.
The grab for oil and materials in these frigid wastes is also stirring territorial disputes and a build up of Arctic military capabilities by various nations. The House Foreign Affairs Committee has set a March 25 hearing on how climate change could affect Arctic security
Arctic expert Rockford Weitz cites studies by U.S. government agencies and others that predict the permanent ice sheet that covers the top of the world may largely disappear by 2020. "Some say it may happen by 2013 " which is only four years away," Weitz said.
Weitz leads the Arctic Futures Initiative, an executive consulting service that advises on Arctic issues. He says moving cargo from China or Japan to Europe via Russia's Arctic Sea route could lop 20%-24% off the distance from regular routes.
Big energy and mining firms from the U.S., Russia, Canada and Scandinavia are building or eyeing Arctic port facilities that would have been blocked a few decades ago.
Heating Up Energy
The U.S. Geological Survey estimates the Arctic holds up to 90 billion barrels of untapped oil. They also reckon the region holds as much as 1.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 44 billion barrels of liquid natural gas. Those gas reserves would equal all the proven reserves in (non-Arctic) Russia.
Big mines already operate in Canada, Alaska and Russia near the Arctic Circle.
Norilsk Nickel, the world's largest nickel miner, operates in the Russian Arctic. It ships its ore via the Kara Sea, which is part of the Arctic Ocean north of Siberia.
Alaska's Red Dog Mine is the world's largest zinc operation. It's just north of the Bering Strait and is run by mining company Teck Cominco (TCK).
Greenland, a partly autonomous part of Denmark, is another potentially mineral-rich area. The glacier that covers the island is receding, allowing for intensive surveying.
Gazprom, the world's biggest gas company, is one of the biggest players in exploiting Arctic energy resources. So is Lukoil, Russia's largest oil company.
Chevron (CVX), Royal Dutch Shell (RDSA) and Exxon Mobil (XOM) have long been involved in developing energy reserves in Alaska and other Arctic areas. Pioneer Natural Resources, a large Dallas-based independent oil and gas producer, also invests heavily in Alaska.
Shell, French oil firm Total (TOT) and Chevron are developing the Shtokman field in Russia's Arctic, one of the world's largest natural gas fields, with Gazprom. And Norway's national company Statoil is engaged in various oil exploration and technology projects in the Arctic.
Timber And Fish, Too
Russia also boasts huge timber reserves in Siberia and other northern areas. The nation's backward roads made it hard to extract this lumber. But analysts say shipping it to Asia and Europe through Arctic seas is viable. The rivers in these timber-rich areas all run north. So logs could be floated by river to the Arctic Ocean where they could be picked up by ships.
On the fishery side, the parting ice up north is revealing a bonanza of cod, Alaskan pollock, Arctic char and other species. With once-rich fishing grounds in Europe, Asia and the U.S. depleted, Arctic seas offer new sources of fish and other sea food. Most fish sold at U.S. fast-food outlets comes from Arctic waters.
But legal disputes regarding ownership of the Arctic resources and sea lanes are heating up.
Russia, Norway, Canada, the U.S. and others are laying claim to Arctic assets. Huebert says they're also quietly beefing up submarine and other naval capability in Arctic waters.
She warns that multinationals may hesitate to invest more capital in Arctic ventures until the issue of "who owns what" is settled.