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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Open Passage

Open Passage

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Monday, September 19, 2016/Categories: natural history, space science, sustainability, environment, climate change

      Beligica Trapped in Ice Searching for the Northwest Passage, 1912  (credit: NOAA)

The famous Northwest Passage is now open. The goal of many 18th and 19th Century explorers is now virtually ice-free in mid-summer. A sea lane across the Arctic Ocean coastlline, through the archipelago of islands to Greenland, and into the Atlantic ocean was photograped 3 years apart on the same day in mid-August showing the extent of sea ice.

        Northwest Passage, August 9, 2013      (photo credits: NASA)     Northwest Passage, August 9, 2016

According to NASA: "a path of open water can be traced along most of the distance from the Amundsen Gulf to Baffin Bay. Seasonal ice this year—ice that grew since the end of last summer and found throughout the Passage—was thinner than normal. This ice melts more easily, breaks up, moves out of the channels, and could allow an ice-strengthened ship to move through without much difficulty."



                                                Arctic Ocean, Mid-summer Sea Ice Extent (NSIDC)

New data released by the National Snow & Ice Data Center shows that 2016 will represent the 2nd lowest extent of Arctic sea ice cover measured. What little ice remains is melting fast and an open passage long sought by the early mariners will fully appear before the end of the Fall.

Climate models predicting an 'open ocean' by the middle of the 21st Century will need some revision.



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