(Image source: US Navy)
Ever since early February, a growing section of the Beaufort sea ice has been breaking into a large system of expanding cracks. Now, it appears that a very large crack has run down the back of the Arctic Archipelago and the north shore of Greenland, lifting much of the remaining thick sea ice off its anchor there.
You can view this event by watching the last few frames of the US Navy sea ice animation above. These animations have a rather low resolution. So the fact that this large crack has become visible in this image is a testament to its possible size.
Clouds appear to have obscured much of this region in the satellite picture. So we don’t yet have direct observations of this cracking event. Such a direct observation would provide confirmation that the crack is as large as it appears in the US Navy composite.
Ever since Neven and Chris Reynolds and a commenter to Neven’s Arctic Ice blog monickered A-team began posting observations of the Beaufort sea ice crack-up, major news sources began picking up on the story. Climate Central and now Discover News have issued their own reports. Even NSIDC has given Neven’s Arctic Ice Blog a reference. NSIDC’s own take on the event is that the current crack-up is ‘exceptional.’
We’ll have to see if the US Navy data bears out in the satellite picture. However, it appears that the current crack-up which may pose serious risks to Arctic sea ice come late spring and summer, continues apace. Much of the Beaufort sea is riddled with very large cracks and broken sections of ice. Crack systems appear to have spread further north and east, creating the overall impression of an ongoing break-up.