Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features a seasonal structure known as an “ice arch” that serves as a gatekeeper for sea ice in the Arctic Ocean.
This particular ice arch formed in mid-December 2020 across the southern end of the strait and remained stable until early July 2021.
The ice begins to melt when warm temperatures arrive in the spring. After it is thinned out and weakened, the ice arch usually breaks apart in the wind.
According to NASA, the structure typically forms in winter and spans either the southern or northern end of the Nares Strait between Greenland and Ellesmere Island.
Earlier this year, a team of researchers led by Kent Moore of the University of Toronto Mississauga found that ice arches in the Nares Strait have been breaking up earlier than usual in recent years, while some have failed to form at all.
This year, the ice persisted for about 200 days, lasting into summer. “There is a lot of variability, and this year seems to have been a return to a longer-lived arch,” said Moore.
The image was captured on July 6, 2021 by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite.
Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory