The Arctic continues a downward trend in sea ice. As the Around the Americas campaign kicks off from Seattle, May 31, for the Northwest Passage, this is one of the trends we will be taking a look at. I sailed the Passage in 2007 from east to west. Will the Passage again be open for a west to east transit? And what will be the conditions of the sea during the summer of 2009? Stay in touch through my website and follow the links as we embark on a 25,000 mile sail around the North and South American continents.
February 3, 2009
Ice extent continues to track below normal.
National Snow and Ice Data Center
As is typical during mid-winter, sea ice extent increased overall in January; maximum monthly extent is expected in March. However, January ice extent remained well below normal compared to the long-term record. Ice extent averaged for January 2009 is the sixth lowest January in the satellite record. Also of note is that from January 15 to 26, ice extent saw essentially no increase; an unusual wind pattern appears to have been the cause.
2008 year in review
Arctic sea ice in 2008 was notable for several reasons. The year continued the negative trend in summer sea ice extent, with the second-lowest summer minimum since record-keeping began in 1979. 2008 sea ice also showed well-below-average ice extents throughout the entire year.
The ice cover in 2008 began the year heavily influenced by the record-breaking 2007 melt season.
Ultimately, summer 2008 finished with the second-lowest minimum extent in the satellite record, 9% above the 2007 minimum and 34% below average. A more diffuse ice cover and a thinner pack nevertheless suggested a record-low ice volume (ice area multiplied by thickness) at the end of summer.