Sea Ice Update: The Long Dissolve of 2012

August 30, 2012

Commenters here have pointed out a stunning feature made clear at the University of Bremen Sea Ice page.  With a little searching I found an animation that makes it even clearer.

The image above covers the last 30 days of melting. At the 5 second mark, you can see an enormous blob break free in the Chukchi Sea area, fly apart and disappear in the anomalously warm ocean water.

In the last few frames another huge mass in the central arctic seems about to pull away and dissolve in a similar process. I’m learning to read these images along with everyone else, but it would seem that whether it eventually melts or freezes in place is dependent on how much longer this process continues.


5 Responses to “Sea Ice Update: The Long Dissolve of 2012”

  1. rayduray Says:


    Here’s a couple of animations that really helped me to understand the movement of sea ice in the Arctic region over a period of years. Note that the general inflow of ocean current is from the Pacific via the Bering Strait, that there is a permanent gyre in the Beaufort Sea and that the outflow of Arctic ice is down the Fram Strait into the northern Atlantic. Recently I’ve read that phytoplankton which was formerly constrained to the Pacific has migrated through and is now being identified in the Atlantic, the reverse migration is not in evidence.

    And one more, showing results from 1982 to 2007:

    • greenman3610 Says:

      right, am familiar with that animation.
      my question arises in that the big chunk that disappeared in the Chukchi sea a couple weeks ago simply melted in place without being pumped out of the fram, and that may be simply because it was churned up by cyclonic winds, but I’m interested to see how this plays out – since the historic behaviors of ice were somewhat conditioned by ice that was on the average, thicker and older.
      We’re all going to learn something.

  2. Urpo Taskinen Says:

    Maybe this lecture by Jennifer Francis explains lot of what is happening.

  3. junkdrawer88 Says:

    I’ve found this post, and especially the comments, over at Neven’s Sea Ice blog especially interesting this year:

    Good discussion on:

    1.) the increase of flash melt and the halocline mixing seen this year

    2.) This NASA study on the increase of storms and ice movement speeds:

    Important read for all interested in the arctic ice this year.

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