This animation tracks Arctic sea ice seasonal melt from about the time of the 2017 winter maximum. It shows monthly sea ice concentration for April, May, June, July, and August 2017, and the final frame shows sea ice concentration on the date of the likely minimum extent, September 13. In each frame, sea ice ranges from white (high concentration) to dark blue (low concentration), and the yellow line is the median ice edge for the climatological average (1981–2010).
The summer of 2017 marked the most challenging ice conditions that the Mission Arctic team had encountered since 2011, despite it being the eighth-lowest Arctic minimum extent in the 38-year satellite record. Following an exceptionally warm autumn and winter, it was the lowest Arctic sea ice extent maximum in the satellite record. After reaching its winter peak, sea ice melt got off to a slow start, but melt rates accelerated in June. From about the second week of June through the first week of August, the overall Arctic sea ice melt rate nearly matched that of 2012, the year of the lowest Arctic minimum extent on record. As August 2017 progressed, however, melt rates slowed.
Planned 2017 Mission Arctic Route.
What impacted Mission Arctic the most, however, was how unevenly this melt took place. While the sea ice over Europe and Asia melted extensively a cold Greenlandic and Eastern Canadian Arctic summer meant that waterways in our part of the Arctic remained choked with ice throughout the summer. Fantastic news for the planet and wildlife but challenging for us to achieve our goals! We had many more encounters with heavy ice this year as explained in the previous post.
Achieved 2017 Mission Arctic Route.
These amazing but concerning experiences prompted us to make some pretty large adjustments to our originally proposed route. Instead of transitioning from the first part of our expedition focused on Science and into to the second part of the expedition focused on History (which entailed heading to the Western Arctic where we would conduct our searches for the lost Woolly Mammoth and expedition sites) we decided to extend the Scientific portion of the voyage and continue down Baffin Island and back to Newfoundland and Labrador. Ultimately we decided we would have more success and time in conducting our Archeological searches in 2018. Instead we conducted hundreds of more Scientific casts throughout the Eastern Arctic for the Arctic Research Center collecting information around the entirety of the Labrador Sea covering 7000 nautical miles and reaching an incredible 80 degrees 16 minutes North only a few hundred nautical miles form the North Pole.
Its nice to see the Arctic Ice still calls the shots.