On June 17th the Northern Sea Route Administration published the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute forecast of ice conditions for June to August 2022. Here’s the summary:
“Favorable” conditions in most areas, but “average” in the eastern East Siberian Sea and south west Chukchi Sea.
Traffic along the main Northern Sea Route has already begun. Marine Traffic reveals that the liquified natural gas carrier Nikolay Yevgenov is heading for the Bering Strait and has already sailed north of the New Siberian Islands. He is now entering the “average” ice area in the eastern ESS:
Meanwhile the recently commissioned nuclear powered icebreaker Sibir is patiently waiting in the Vilkitsky Strait:
The Northern Sea Route is evidently already “open” for ice hardened LNG tankers, but not yet for more conventional vessels. Here is the current AMSR2 sea ice concentration map:
There is already plenty of open water in the Laptev Sea, but as suggested by the AARI forecast that does not yet apply to the East Siberian Sea.[Edit – June 30th]
The fast ice in the Vilkitsky Strait has started breaking up:[Edit – July 16th]
Using our traditional metric of areas with 6/10 sea ice concentration or less on the official charts being navigable by hypothetical “small craft” the Northern Sea Route is now “open”. Here’s the July 15th chart for the East Siberian Sea which reveals that a narrow gap has opened up past the entrance to Chaunskaya Bay:
Note however that AMSR2 shows the presence of sea ice in locations where the official charts do not:
As indeed does MODIS:[Edit – August 9th]
It appears as though AARI were listening to my complaint yesterday. After an absence of several weeks a new set of regional ice charts were posted today. Here is the East Siberian Sea:
It’s still firmly closed to non ice hardened traffic east of Pevek.[Edit – August 21st]
The AARI charts from August 19th finally show a narrow route through the East Siberian and Chukchi Seas with <= 6/10 concentration sea ice:[Edit – August 30th]
Today’s AARI charts now show an ice free route south of Wrangel Island:[Edit – September 29th]
The AARI regional charts are conspicuous by their absence again. However MODIS reveals that the Vilkitsky Strait now appears to be closing fast, but it isn’t quite there yet?
Watch this space!