Ice Thickness in the Northwest Passage

Geophysical Research Letters (September 25, 2015; DOI: 10.1002/2015GL065704) / by Christian Haas and Stephen E. L. Howell

Recently, the feasibility of commercial shipping in the ice-prone Northwest Passage (NWP) has attracted a lot of attention. However, very little ice thickness information actually exists. We present results of the first ever airborne electromagnetic ice thickness surveys over the NWP carried out in April and May 2011 and 2015 over first-year and multiyear ice. These show modal thicknesses between 1.8 and 2.0 m in all regions. Mean thicknesses over 3 m and thick, deformed ice were observed over some multiyear ice regimes shown to originate from the Arctic Ocean. Thick ice features more than 100 m wide and thicker than 4 m occurred frequently. Results indicate that even in today’s climate, ice conditions must still be considered severe. These results have important implications for the prediction of ice breakup and summer ice conditions, and the assessment of sea ice hazards during the summer shipping season.


One thought on “Ice Thickness in the Northwest Passage

  1. If you go looking for sea ice you find ice… if you go looking for routes through the Northwest Passage you can find seven (7) routes… I don’t believe the ice should stop you with good planning and a veteran ice pilot navigator… ALL SEVEN NW PASSAGE ROUTES OPENED IN 2015 – it just doesn’t get any easier – set your sights on a goal – not on the obstacle of ice thickness – science research requires making a case for funding… call it “thick ice” so if you want a case for NW Passage shipping the case is ICE FREE WATERS IN 2015 – just look at the records and you will see hundreds of vessels making Northwest Passages – the proof is in the record books –

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