Vanishing Svalbard Sea Ice

At the turn of the year we speculated about the potential effect of high temperatures and the swells caused by strong winds on sea ice in the Fram Strait and Barents and Greenland Seas. With the vernal equinox rapidly approaching let’s take stock of the state of Svalbard sea ice. Here’s one the first “visual” satellite images of the area in 2016 recorded yesterday by the Aqua satellite:

NASA Worldview “true-color” image of the Central Arctic north of Svalbard on March 14th 2016, derived from the MODIS sensor on the Aqua satellite
NASA Worldview “true-color” image of the Central Arctic north of Svalbard on March 14th 2016, derived from the MODIS sensor on the Aqua satellite

and here is the equivalent sea ice map from the Norwegian Meteorological Institute:

Svalbard-Map-20160314

Both sources reveal an unseasonable lack of solid sea ice around Svalbard. In fact an intrepid Northwest Passage navigator who didn’t mind the dark might well currently be able to circumnavigate Svalbard!

The Norwegian Meteorological Institute also produce a time series of sea ice area in the Svalbard region based on data from OSI-SAF. It currently looks like this:

osisaf-svalbard_20160314

As sunlight returns to the Central Arctic north of 80 degrees there is an anomalously large area of open water ready to soak up the rays. Here is what the Danish Meteorological Institute timeseries of Central Arctic temperatures looks like at the moment:

DMI-meanT_20160314

and here is the current Svalbard surf forecast from Magic Seaweed:

MSW-20160315

Whilst we speculate on what all this might mean for the Atlantic side of the Arctic over the coming melting season, here’s our new Svalbard Sea Ice page which contains a variety of graphs and maps to help us keep track of events on that part of our planet.

3 thoughts on “Vanishing Svalbard Sea Ice

  1. No sooner had we commented on the open water North of Svalbard than a large high pressure system settled over the central Arctic. As a result the sea ice edge has been pushed towards Svalbard:

    fram_strait_20160323

    and consequently sea ice area has increased, although it is still well below “normal”:

    osisaf-svalbard_20160326

    Central Arctic temperatures have also remained well above “normal” too:

    DMI-meanT_20160326

    Another side effect of the high pressure has been increased export of sea ice from the Central Arctic, as illustrated by this animation from “Wipneus” on the Arctic Sea Ice Forum:

    Greenland-Sea_sea_ice_concentration_20160326

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