Arctic sea ice still too thick for regular shipping route through Northwest Passage

Arctic ice

Despite climate change, sea ice in the Northwest Passage (NWP) remains too thick and treacherous for it to be a regular commercial Arctic shipping route for many decades, according to new research out of York University.

Prior to this research, there was little information about the thickness of sea ice in the NWP, which meanders through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Yet, next to ice coverage and type, sea plays the most important role in assessing shipping hazards and predicting ice break-up.

"While everyone only looks at ice extent or area, because it is so easy to do with satellites, we study ice thickness, which is important to assess overall changes of ice volume, and helps to understand why and where the ice is most vulnerable to summer melt," says lead researcher York Professor Christian Haas, the Canada Research Chair for Arctic Sea Ice Geophysics.

The research paper, "Ice Thickness in the Northwest Passage", was published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters .

Haas and his team, including Stephen Howell of Environment Canada, measured first-year and multiyear ice thickness in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago using an airplane equipped with an electromagnetic induction sounder or EM bird. They surveyed the ice in April and May of 2011 and again in 2015. It is considered the first large-scale assessment of ice thickness in the area.

The surveys found a modal thickness of 1.8 to two metres in most regions of the NWP and mean thickness of between two and three metres. Ice originating from the Arctic Ocean showed a mean thickness of more than three metres on average. Some multiyear ice regions contained much thicker, deformed ice that was more than 100 m wide and more than four metres thick.

"This is the first-ever such survey in the Northwest Passage, and we were surprised to find this much thick ice in the region in late winter, despite the fact that there is more and more open water in recent years during late summer," says Haas. "This points to the importance of ice transport from the high Arctic and melt processes during the spring season, which critically depend on weather conditions and how they affect the melting of thick ice."

Although the results were obtained in late winter when no ships travel the route, they will impact how ice break-up and summer ice conditions develop and are currently predicted, and help forecast the opening and navigability of the NWP during summer. It will also affect how hazards are assessed during the shipping season and provide baseline data going forward.

The NWP, comprised of a series of gulfs, straits, sounds and channels that connect the Beaufort Sea in the west with Baffin Bay in the east, is a much shorter route for moving goods between the Pacific and Atlantic regions than the Panama and Suez Canals. At the moment, this year's annual summer minimum Arctic-wide ice coverage is the fourth lowest on record, with similar low coverage in the NWP, according to information provided by the Canadian Ice Service.

How climate change will affect the summer ice in the NWP in the future, however, is difficult to predict, says Haas. Further melting could cause more multiyear from the Arctic Ocean to drift into the NWP, making it less, not more passable.


Explore further

Cool summer of 2013 boosted Arctic sea ice

More information: Geophysical Research Letters, onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10 … 02/2015GL065704/full
Journal information: Geophysical Research Letters

Provided by York University
Citation: Arctic sea ice still too thick for regular shipping route through Northwest Passage (2015, September 29) retrieved 19 September 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2015-09-arctic-sea-ice-thick-regular.html
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Sep 29, 2015
Why oh why are they still using this stock photo image of a blue outline of Florida superimposed on a snow field (which might even be a photoshopped beach)?

Here's a map for comparison:
http://www.enchan.../map.GIF

Sep 29, 2015
What!??!
There's still ice in the Arctic??
Don't tell the Chicken Littles.

Sep 29, 2015
You're the chicken little terrified of Al Gore.

Sep 29, 2015
Fortunately, the rate of loss of Arctic Sea Ice Volume has leveled off in the past 3 years, including this season's minimum, as this year and the previous 2 have all been above 2012. I haven't taken a close look at what this year's volume loss is believed to be for the land ice on Greenland so I can't speak for the total of land and sea ice in the arctic, but it is comforting to know that the apparent trend that had been in motion from the previous decade has apparently stopped for now as far as the Sea Ice goes.

Due to the 11 year solar cycle, it really takes about...11 years...to know whether you're looking at random variation or whether an actual change in the trend has happened.

Sep 29, 2015
Despite climate change...... LOOOOOOOOL!!!

Sep 29, 2015
Why do you guys still stand by oil?
Every single publicly traded top 10 oil company has lost at least 20% of their market value in the past 2 years, some of them much more.

How do you create jobs with an industry going bankrupt? Drill drill drill, for peanuts. The price of oil will NEVER be high again, because the demand will never be there. It's just going to sink lower and lower until it stabilizes strictly for its use in the plastic industry and as a lubricant.

Sep 29, 2015
Investing in fossil fuels at this point is a joke.
Solar and nuclear are the modern power sources, so that cuts demand, and I bet in 20 years, even owning a gasoline car will be a hobbiest thing like ham radios. Everyone will have an app to have a driverless electric car come pick them up.

Get real, a bunch of oil rig jobs aren't worth destroying the world for

Sep 29, 2015
Shell just released a report on oil in the arctic as well.
Guess what they found?
Nothing.
All Us, European and Russian oil companies are pulling out of the arctic because there is not enough oil to justify going there for 50 bucks a barrel, and they themselves don't see any point in the future that it will be economical to go to.
China is building enough renewable power sources in the next to years to power the entire US, and is also switching to cap and trade.

Your ignorance has lost, but luckily your children's world won't be destroyed by it, even if their minds are.

Oct 03, 2015
Steve:

Environmental Terrorists are actually the biggest hindrance to implementing wind and solar power in the U.S. They don't want off-shore wind because they claim it will harm birds or fish habitats.

I don't know who i'll vote for on the next election cycle.

Retardigans:
15 wealthy politicians plus one billionaire who all want to cut taxes on the rich and screw everyone else.

Dummycrats:
A couple ultra-liberals who support pretty much everything I'm morally opposed to.

Last time I voted for president, I flipped a coin, and Obama won.

I might vote for that Pastor who said Islam was unconstitutional, if I could remember his name. I never heard of he guy before, but that I can agree with.

Oct 03, 2015
It's pretty sad when the Catholic Pope is so polluted by ultra-liberalism that he actually supports gay marriage, even though his own Bible, if he even bothers to read it, tells him that is strictly against Christian doctrine and teachings. This populist message is all about filling pews to make money off the tithe and offering of the poor, and not at all about the truth or the Christian Faith.

Small wonder though, the Catholic church was founded as a political tool by Constantine, who faked his own conversion to Christianity in order to usurp control over the Christians, which the secular governments had failed to do by force previously. However, what they could not do by force, at least initially, they accomplished through deceit. Eventually this entire sect of the Christian Faith was corrupted into a political institution with it's own Monarch, also known as the Pope.

Add another name to the long list of "False Apostles" who have been "found liars".

Oct 03, 2015
Please keep religion out of this site. We will all just disagree with each other.

Oct 03, 2015
I am not concerned about the Pope taking the side of the Climate alarmists, because he is not the "Anointed of God". He is in fact a False Apostle.

A few years back, it looked as if Arctic Sea Ice melt was going to keep accelerating, but after the past three seasons it has become apparent that much of this is just random fluctuations.

I think the temperature curve from the past 150 years or so is most likely half of a sinusoidal wave, because it is not accelerating, even though the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is accelerating, therefore I see no real connection. In fact the rate of rise is the same as it was in the first 50 years or so, even though almost none of the man-made CO2 was released in that time, thus showing little or no relationship between the two events. Further, the rate of temperature rise has actually decreased in the past 2 decades, even as the rate of CO2 production has nearly doubled...further evidence that the two events are unrelated.

Oct 03, 2015
Please keep religion out of this site. We will all just disagree with each other.


No, religion matters, because the godless far left have managed to use the "PC" meme to force everyone else to cave to their obscenities year after year, both on matters of personal morality and matters of national and international policy, and I say enough is enough.

That some atheist would dare to associate himself with the founding Father's views on "secular government" is abhorrent. The Declaration of Independence is not a secular document, nor was the U.S. government ever intended to be "secular".

What we have here are some godless Supreme Court justices who have re-written both history and the constitution (contrary to the law, which does not give them legislative power) in the past several decades.

The guy better be afraid of Hell, because the Supreme Being has every authority to send him there for his blasphemy and disrespect.

Oct 03, 2015
Your silly and hateful god has no power over me.

Oct 03, 2015
Climate change might be bringing more snow to the arctic, giving the false impression that the layers are thicker than they are, as evidenced by those deformed four-meter thick ice layers that they have found. More snow happens when it warms up. Perfect ambient temperatures for falling snow are in the range of about 2 degrees centigrade, just barely above freezing.

Oct 03, 2015
Climate change might be bringing more snow to the arctic, giving the false impression that the layers are thicker than they are, as evidenced by those deformed four-meter thick ice layers that they have found. More snow happens when it warms up. Perfect ambient temperatures for falling snow are in the range of about 2 degrees centigrade, just barely above freezing.

Next time, please include the Chapter and Verse where you got that from the AGW Cult "bible".

Oct 03, 2015
A few years back, it looked as if Arctic Sea Ice melt was going to keep accelerating, but after the past three seasons it has become apparent that much of this is just random fluctuations.

Only to the deluded.
No, it wasn't expected to "accelerate" - just to continue down the long-term trend-line, with natural weather derived fluctuations around that.

http://neven1.typ...c970b-pi

Oct 03, 2015
It was caused by global warming

duh

Oct 03, 2015
A few years back, it looked as if Arctic Sea Ice melt was going to keep accelerating, but after the past three seasons it has become apparent that much of this is just random fluctuations.

Only to the deluded.
No, it wasn't expected to "accelerate" - just to continue down the long-term trend-line, with natural weather derived fluctuations around that.

http://neven1.typ...c970b-pi

Wow! 20 years is long term if it supports GloBULL warming. Wonder why they cherrypicked from 1980.

Oct 03, 2015


Wow! 20 years is long term if it supports GloBULL warming. Wonder why they cherrypicked from 1980.

The PIOMAS graph shows a 35 year trend starting in 1980 because before then there wasn't enough reliable data. No cherry picking and considerably longer than 20 years.

Oct 04, 2015
Wow! 20 years is long term if it supports GloBULL warming. Wonder why they cherrypicked from 1980.

FFS
Cant even count!

Oct 04, 2015
What made the Pleistocene Ice Sheets recede?
https://www.uwgb....glac.gif

While its true that ice is in a slight decline over the last 35 years, that isn't even the blink of an eye in geologic time-frames.

We are very lucky that the earth goes through changes. How arrogant of us to think we can understand those changes on human time-scales.

I'm sure regulars have already done it, but I link to a description of the time period we live in now. Notice how important warming is the the Holocene:
https://en.wikipe...Holocene

Oct 04, 2015
It's interesting that the main cause for the current melting of ice is the same cause for the melting of the ice sheets at the end of the Pleistocene: increased levels of CO2 (http://www.bc.edu...ase.html ).

It is incredibly arrogant for those in the anti-science groups to claim we can't understand the climate changes the earth goes through merely because those in the anti-science groups lack an understanding of basic physics. To claim that we can't understand the climate with hundreds of thousands of years worth of data along with a pretty in depth understanding of the basic physics is akin to claiming that we can't understand evolution merely because we didn't personally witness some of the dinosaurs evolving into birds. The arrogance of the willfully ignorant is breathtaking at times.

Oct 04, 2015
@Vietvet
The PIOMAS graph shows a 35 year trend starting in 1980 because before then there wasn't enough reliable data. No cherry picking and considerably longer than 20 years.
Sea ice extent monitoring started in october 1978 with the deployment of Nimbus 7. https://nsidc.org....gd.html

Oct 04, 2015
@Vietvet
The PIOMAS graph shows a 35 year trend starting in 1980 because before then there wasn't enough reliable data. No cherry picking and considerably longer than 20 years.
Sea ice extent monitoring started in october 1978 with the deployment of Nimbus 7. https://nsidc.org....gd.html


True but PIOMAS is about volume not extent.

Oct 04, 2015
@Vietvet
The PIOMAS graph shows a 35 year trend starting in 1980 because before then there wasn't enough reliable data. No cherry picking and considerably longer than 20 years.
Sea ice extent monitoring started in october 1978 with the deployment of Nimbus 7. https://nsidc.org....gd.html


True but PIOMAS is about volume not extent.

Yes but, satellite monitoring is essential for volume assessment. Read this and give a special attention to 'purpose' http://psc.apl.uw...anomaly/

Oct 04, 2015
@TechnoCreed

Hey, were on the same page. Satellite data is crucial for both extent and volume.

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