Unusually low ice concentration in the Beaufort Sea and Chukchi Sea

September 13th, 2022 |

Suomi-NPP VIIRS Visible images [click to play animated GIF | MP4]

A sequence of Suomi-NPP VIIRS Visible images (above) showed a large area of ice-free water in the western Beaufort Sea and eastern Chukchi Sea north of Alaska — with limited sea ice concentration as far north as 80º N latitude — on 13 September 2022.  

False Color RGB images from NOAA-20 and Suomi-NPP, viewed using RealEarth (below) provided another depiction of the large ice-free region the Beaufort Sea (as well as adjacent portions of the Chukchi Sea).

False Color RGB images from NOAA-20 and Suomi-NPP [click to play animated GIF]

 Sea Ice Concentration (based on the NOAA Enterprise Algorithm) at 0000 UTC on 13 September (below) also showed limited ice coverage and concentration extending past 80º N latitude.

Sea Ice Concentration at 0000 UTC on 13 September [click to enlarge]

According to Rick Thoman (University of Alaska, Fairbanks), Beaufort Sea ice extent was the 9th lowest on record for this date:

Sea ice in the Bering Sea

August 14th, 2022 |

GOES-18 True Color RGB images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-18 (GOES-West) True Color RGB images viewed using CSPP GeoSphere (above) showed the motion of sea ice filaments that had moved southward through the Bering Strait and into the northwestern Bering Sea (just off the coast of Chokotka Okrug, Russia) on 14 August 2022. 

A sequence of 375-meter resolution VIIRS False Color RGB images from NOAA-20 and Suomi-NPP viewed using RealEarth (below) displayed a more detailed view of the sea ice (brighter shades of cyan).

VIIRS False Color RGB images from NOAA-20 and Suomi-NPP [click to enlarge]

A 30-meter resolution Landsat-8 False Color RGB image (below) provided an even more detailed depiction of the sea ice structure and coverage.

Landsat-8 False Color RGB image [click to enlarge]

H/T to Rick Thoman (University of Alaska, Fairbanks), who pointed out that this sea ice was evident in the Bering Sea on 09 August. More information on this unusual sea ice event is available on this NWS SeaIce Program storymap.

===== 21 August Update =====

VIIRS False Color RGB images from Suomi-NPP and NOAA-20 [click to enlarge]

One week later, another sequence of VIIRS False Color RGB images from Suomi-NPP and NOAA-20 on 21 August (above) indicated that the sea ice had moved a bit farther to the southwest along the Chukotka coast, with much of it located within Mechigmenskiy Zaliv due south of Lorino. 

GOES-18 True Color RGB images (below) showed the motion of this sea ice during the day.

GOES-18 True Color RGB images [click to play MP4 animation]

Ice in Hudson Bay and the Northwest Passages

August 7th, 2022 |

GOES-16 True Color RGB images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 (GOES-East) True Color RGB images from the CSPP GeoSphere site (above) showed patches of remnant thick first-year ice in southern Hudson Bay, Canada (off the coast of Ontario) on 07 August 2022. The diurnal tide cycle within Hudson Bay was evident in the ice motion during the period 1230-2020 UTC.

Farther to the north, a similar tidal ebb and flow of ice within the Northwest Passages was also seen in a longer animation from 1200-2150 UTC (below).

GOES-16 True Color RGB images [click to play MP4 animation]

A map of Ice Concentration Departure From Normal from the Canadian Ice Service (below) indicated that a significant portion of the ice concentration in southern Hudson Bay was above normal for the date (darker shades of blue) — while most ice in the Northwest Passages was closer to normal concentration.

Ice concentration departure from normal on 01 August [click to enlarge]

Nearshore ice motion in the Beaufort Sea

June 21st, 2022 |

Suomi-NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) images [click to play animated GIF | MP4]

Suomi-NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) images (above) showed a variety of Beaufort Sea ice floe motion within the nearshore waters of Alaska and Yukon during the 20-21 June 2022 period. Just north of Utqiavik (or Barrow, PABR), a sharp “shear line” was seen on 20 June — with a narrow line of ice flows moving east-northeastward, directly adjacent to the the pack ice that was moving westward.

Farther to the east (in the bottom right corner of this satellite scene), a fracture in the fast ice off the Yukon coastline led to the separation of a large ice floe on 21 June — which then drifted west-northwestward. Of note were the unusually warm surface air temperatures at stations near/along the northern coastline of Yukon, with some temperature readings rising into the upper 50s and low 60s F.