Is the Northwest Passage Open Yet?

We asked this question last year, albeit a couple of weeks later. It looks like it is if you only peruse passive microwave visualisations such as this one:

Arc_20160731_res3.125_LARGE

However if you were the captain of a yacht attempting to sail through the Northwest Passage this year you might well have some reservations. For example, the Barrow webcam (currently stuck on July 31st) reveals this:

Here’s the associated National Weather Service ice chart:

NWS-Alaska-20160801-Crop

Meanwhile further east the approach to the often troublesome “choke point” of Bellot Strait looks like this from the Suomi satellite:

NASA Worldview “false-color” image of the Bellot Strait on August 1st 2016, derived from the VIIRS sensor on the Suomi satellite
NASA Worldview “false-color” image of the Bellot Strait on August 1st 2016, derived from the VIIRS sensor on the Suomi satellite

whilst the associated Canadian Ice Service ice chart looks like this:

QueenMaud-201608011800

Discretion being the better part of valour, in all the circumstances waiting a day or two longer before casting off might prove prudent:

Arc_20160801_res3.125_LARGE

 

[Edit – August 3rd]

Clearer skies over the Northwest Passage yesterday reveal the remaining ice:

NASA Worldview “true-color” image of Larsen Sound on August 2nd 2016, derived from the MODIS sensor on the Aqua satellite
NASA Worldview “true-color” image of Larsen Sound on August 2nd 2016, derived from the MODIS sensor on the Aqua satellite

Here’s the CIS chart of the area from yesterday evening:

QueenMaud-201608021800

 

[Edit – August 7th]

Here’s the August 7th CIS chart for the Queen Maud Gulf and points north:

QueenMaud-201608071800

Today there looks to be a route past Gjoa Havn and through Bellot Strait that doesn’t involve negotiating more than 3/10 concentration sea ice. The ice has been pushed back from Point Barrow too, so by my reckoning we can now declare one route through the Northwest Passage “open”, for the moment at least.

 

[Edit – August 10th]

A nice clear MODIS image of the Northwest Passage yesterday:

NASA Worldview “true-color” image of the Northwest Passage on August 9th 2016, derived from the MODIS sensor on the Terra satellite
NASA Worldview “true-color” image of the Northwest Passage on August 9th 2016, derived from the MODIS sensor on the Terra satellite

backed up by the CIS ice charts:

Resolute-201608091800

QueenMaud-201608091800

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