Thursday, 13 September 2012

SIA Later!

Or rather we won't as in a few years it'll all be gone!

This is a little blog about current Arctic Sea Ice Area as we near the 2012 record-breaking summer minimum.

Take a look at the image:

It's a section of the Arctic SIA as of yesterday.

We can see that the whole of the top-right hand edge, is the Northern Sea Route. You can see it's open-water and there's a lot of it. It first opened in 2009, but right now it's so wide you could pretty much sail the UK straight through; and within 3 years!

The opening of the Northern Sea Route means that ocean currents can sweep more easily round the eastern edge of the North Pole; bringing warmer waters from the Gulf Stream (not to be confused with the Jet Stream); and thus accelerating the collapse of the Arctic Sea Ice. We can see the effect quite clearly; the eastern edge continues to melt significantly, just days away from the supposed end of the melting season.

By contrast the Western edge of the Arctic Sea Ice is pinned by an extensive set of islands as well as the all-important Greenland land mass. This is why the Sea Ice is clinging to that edge, the frozen land keeps it cooler and protects it from ocean currents.

The last thing to note is the colour scheme. Red means '60%' ice, pink means '80%' ice; purple is near 100%. This means that the white dot in the middle, which is the North Pole itself, is only 80% Sea Ice at best and has a large amount of 60% (i.e. rotten) Sea Ice relatively close by. Given that the Eastern edge of the ice is about half-way to the North Pole, I'd guess it'll be gone within 3 years.

SIA Later, in a week or so for my post on the Arctic minimum!