North-East Passage soon free from ice again?

Jun 13, 2012
Sea ice thickness in the Laptev Sea at the end of the previous winter (April 20, 2012): The sea ice thickness was determined with the SMOS (Soil Moisture Ocean Saliniy) satellite that can resolve ice thicknesses up to 50 centimetres. The black line shows the mission's flight track. SMOS-data: Lars Kaleschke, KlimaCampus, Hamburg University

The North-East Passage, the sea route along the North coast of Russia, is expected to be free of ice early again this summer. The forecast was made by sea ice physicists of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association based on a series of measurement flights over the Laptev Sea, a marginal sea of the Arctic Ocean. Amongst experts the shelf sea is known as an "ice factory" of Arctic sea ice. At the end of last winter the researchers discovered large areas of thin ice not being thick enough to withstand the summer melt.

"These results were a great surprise to us", says expedition member Dr. Thomas Krumpen. In previous measurements in the winter of 2007/2008 the ice in the same area had been up to one metre thicker. In his opinion these clear differences are primarily attributable to the wind: "It behaves differently from year to year. If, as last winter, the wind blows from the mainland to the , it pushes the pack ice from the Laptev Sea towards the North. Open water areas, so-called polynyas, develop in this way before the coast. Their surface water naturally cools very quickly at an of minus 40 degrees. New thin ice forms and is then immediately swept away again by the wind. In view of this cycle, differently sized areas of thin ice then develop on the Laptev Sea depending on wind strength and continuity", explains Thomas Krumpen. (See info charts)

However, the expedition team was unaware of just how large these areas can actually become until they made the measurement flights in March and April of this year. In places the researchers flew over thin ice for around 400 kilometres. The "EM Bird", the torpedo-shaped, electromagnetic ice thickness sensor of the Alfred Wegener Institute, was hung on a cable beneath the helicopter. It constantly recorded the thickness of the . "We now have a unique data set which we primarily want to use to check the measurements of the earth investigation satellite SMOS", says Thomas Krumpen.

The abbreviation SMOS (Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity) is actually a satellite mission to determine the soil moisture of the mainland and salinity of the oceans. However, the satellite of the European Space Agency (ESA) can also be used to survey the . "The satellite can be used above all to detect thin ice areas, as we have seen them, from space", explains Thomas Krumpen.

The SMOS satellite measurements from March and April of this year confirm that the thin ice areas discovered by the expedition team were no locally restricted phenomenon: "A large part of the North-East Passage was characterised by surprisingly thin ice at the end of the winter", says Thomas Krumpen.

The new findings of the successful winter expedition give cause for concern to the scientists: "These huge new areas of thin ice will be the first to disappear when the ice melts in summer. And if the thin ice melts as quickly as we presume, the Laptev Sea and with it a part of the North-East Passage will be free from ice comparatively early this summer", explains the sea ice physicist.

In the past the Laptev Sea was always covered with from October to the end of the following July and was navigable for a maximum of two summer months. In 2011 the ice had retracted so far by the third week of July that during the course of the summer 33 ships were able to navigate the Arctic waters of Russia for the first time. The North-East Passage is viewed by shipping companies to be a time and fuel saving alternative to the conventional Europe-Asia route. The connection from Rotterdam to Japanese Yokohama via the Nord-East Passage is some 3800 sea miles shorter than taking the Suez Canal and Indian Ocean route.

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User comments : 20

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deatopmg
1.6 / 5 (7) Jun 13, 2012
This is great news!
rubberman
3.3 / 5 (7) Jun 13, 2012
This is great news!


In the same way the arms race was good news for plutonium sales.
NotParker
2.1 / 5 (11) Jun 13, 2012
"In the 1920s the newly established Soviet Union began developing the Northern Sea Route as a shipping lane, and domestic cargo ships started using portions of it during the summer months in the 1930s;"

http://www.britan...-Passage

Wow. It is almost as warm as the 1930s now!
Terriva
5 / 5 (2) Jun 13, 2012
In the same way the arms race was good news for plutonium sales.
You're right - the free north-east passage opens the door for a new war confrontation. http://www.defenc...ars.html
developing the Northern Sea Route as a shipping lane, and domestic cargo ships started using portions of it .. It is almost as warm as the 1930s now
But without icebreakers this time...
NotParker
2.2 / 5 (10) Jun 13, 2012
In the same way the arms race was good news for plutonium sales.
You're right - the free north-east passage opens the door for a new war confrontation. http://www.defenc...ars.html
developing the Northern Sea Route as a shipping lane, and domestic cargo ships started using portions of it .. It is almost as warm as the 1930s now
But without icebreakers this time...


2011: "Russia is pledging to spend billions on icebreakers and search and rescue bases along the countrys Northern Sea Route, to help turn it into a major shipping lane able to support tankers and cargo ships.

At the second International Arctic Forum Sept. 21 to 24 in Arkhangelsk, Russia, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin promised 10 new search and rescue bases and a fleet of new icebreakers for the Northern Sea Route, also once known as the Northeast Passage."
Roland
3 / 5 (1) Jun 13, 2012
The Norwegians have the only ice-rated LNG tanker in the world, and it is scheduled to make a voyage to Japan this summer thru the Northern Sea Route--first-ever LNG delivery by this route. No pirates!
MikPetter
5 / 5 (4) Jun 13, 2012
Channel opened in 1930s not due to warming but icebreakers
http://www.britan...-Passage
"In the 1920s the newly established Soviet Union began developing the Northern Sea Route as a shipping lane, and domestic cargo ships started using portions of it during the summer months in the 1930s; the first successful one-season through-transit of the passage was by a Soviet icebreaker in 1934."
"The portion of the Northeast Passage between the Kara and Bering straits remains icebound for most of the year and thus is the most difficult for ships to transit. However, first the Soviet Union and then Russia developed and maintained a navigable channel roughly 3,500 miles (5,600 km) in lengththe distance can vary significantly, depending on the route followedthrough this most challenging part of the passage."
NotParker
2 / 5 (12) Jun 13, 2012

"The thickness of the ice forming annually in the North Polar Sea has diminished from an average of 365 centimeters at the time of Nansens expedition of 1893-96 to 218 centimeters during the drift of the Russian icebreaker Sedov in 1937-40. The extent of drift ice in Arctic waters has also diminished considerably in the last decades. According to information received in the U.S.S.R. in 1945, the area of drift ice in the Russian sector of the Arctic was reduced by no less than 1,000,000 square kilometers between 1924 and 1944. The shipping season in West Spitsbergen has lengthened from three months at the beginning of this century to about seven months at the beginning of the 1940s. The Northern Sea Route, the North-East Passage, could never have been put into regular usage if the ice conditions in recent years had been as difficult as they were during the first decades of this century."

http://www.worldc...n-water/
Parsec
4.4 / 5 (7) Jun 14, 2012
NotParker - just curious. What evidence would you actually accept that the climate is warming? I am unclear if your just an idiot, or really believe that you are presenting an unbiased view of reality. I am actually willing to give you the benefit of the doubt. PM me if you wish to. I don't want to get into a fight over who has the biggest genitalia so if that's your intent please don't bother. Lets just discuss science and the evidence.
MikPetter
5 / 5 (3) Jun 14, 2012
While northern sea ice extents are variable it's important to look at trends see the following graph http://arctic.atm...ated.jpg
Vendicar_Decarian
3.3 / 5 (7) Jun 14, 2012
ParkerTard's lie is easy to expose.

In his quote from the Britannica article, ParkerTard omits the following portion of the paragraph.

the first successful one-season through-transit of the passage was by a Soviet icebreaker in 1934. Portions of the route were used between 1942 and 1945 during World War II...

And...

Domestic regional shipping grew after the war, made easier by improved navigational aids, a growing fleet of icebreakers to allow passage through the sea ice, and a lengthening shipping seasonthe latter having become year-round in the western section by 1980.

"Wow. It is almost as warm as the 1930s now!" - ParkerTard

Wow. ParkerTard has told yet another lie of omission.

He is mentally diseased and needs to get himself to a psychiatrist.
Vendicar_Decarian
3.3 / 5 (7) Jun 14, 2012
Suttently sea ice area is reduced by 1,545,000 square kilometers, and in recent years has been reduced by over 2,200,000 square kilometers by September, compared to historical norms.

http://arctic.atm...ctic.png

This years melt is well below anything seen before.

http://arctic.atm...ive.html

"According to information received in the U.S.S.R. in 1945, the area of drift ice in the Russian sector of the Arctic was reduced by no less than 1,000,000 square kilometers between 1924 and 1944." - Parkertard

Poor ParkerTard. He doesn't exist in the reality based community.
Birger
5 / 5 (2) Jun 14, 2012
The computer models are getting better, but weighing different factors may introduce more uncertainty. Unfortunately the likes of Parker will use that to claim that we know less than we do.
See article in Nature "Uncertainty: Climate models at their limit?" http://www.nature...83a.html

NotParker
1.8 / 5 (10) Jun 14, 2012
Massive warming in arctic recorded:

http://wattsupwit...sbergen/

In the 20s and 30s and 40s.
Vendicar_Decarian
4 / 5 (8) Jun 14, 2012
But not seen as massive in the climatological record of the Northern Hemisphere.

http://www.woodfo...4nh/from
http://www.woodfo...vnh/from

http://www.woodfo...emp/from

"Massive warming in arctic recorded:" - ParkerTard

Whatts up with that?

And why has Anthony Whatts (a washed up Radio Weather Reader) lied about his acceptance of the BEST Climate Analysis?

PussyCat_Eyes
1.4 / 5 (10) Jun 14, 2012
Maybe everyone who expels CO2 from their lungs should be lined up against the wall and shot?
Vendicar_Iscariot should volunteer and be the first to die for his cause. GhostofBlotto and his sock puppet cardacianNeverrid should be second, and the rest of us can go home....lol
Vendicar_Decarian
5 / 5 (2) Jun 17, 2012
Apparently PussyCaTard isn't smart enough to realize that breathing is CO2 neutral since the CO2 exhaled was recently inhaled by the plants that ultimately provided the food energy for the person doing the breathing.

"Maybe everyone who expels CO2 from their lungs should be lined up against the wall and shot?" - PussyCaTard
Vendicar_Decarian
5 / 5 (2) Jun 17, 2012
I will live long enough to see America crumble to dust, and beg for global assistance.

"Vendicar_Iscariot should volunteer and be the first to die for his cause." - PussyCaTard

PussyCaTard on the other hand, is already intellectually dead.
NotParker
1 / 5 (3) Jun 18, 2012
But not seen as massive in the climatological record of the Northern Hemisphere.

http://www.woodfo...4nh/from

"Massive warming in arctic recorded:" - ParkerTard

Whatts up with that?

And why has Anthony Whatts (a washed up Radio Weather Reader) lied about his acceptance of the BEST Climate Analysis?



Obviously you can't read a graph. 1943 is clearly warmer than now.

Why do you keep using HADCRUT4 which is broken and doesn't have the ultra colde 2011 data?
NotParker
1 / 5 (3) Jun 18, 2012
"According to information received in the U.S.S.R. in 1945, the area of drift ice in the Russian sector of the Arctic was reduced by no less than 1,000,000 square kilometers between 1924 and 1944."


And thats only one side of the artic.