Arctic ice arch remains intact Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features an “ice arch” in the Nares Strait that prevents sea ice from escaping the Arctic Ocean and drifting south.
The structure usually breaks up by June or July, and the timing of its collapse has an influence on how much ice will be lost from the Nares Strait in any given year.
In 2019, the ice arch crumbled in mid-April and allowed sea ice to flow freely by May.
The ice arch is more stable this year, and remained intact on May 22 when this image was captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite. Arctic sea ice extent continued the slow pace of seasonal decline observed in April, leading to an average extent for May 2021 of 12.66 million square kilometers (4.89 million square miles). This was 740,000 square kilometers (286,000 square miles) above the record low for the month set in 2016 and 630,000 square kilometers (243,000 square miles) below the 1981 to 2010 average. The average extent for the month ranks ninth lowest in the passive microwave satellite record. The ice edge is near its average location most everywhere in the Arctic Ocean except in the Labrador Sea and east of Novaya Zemlya. Nevertheless, large polynyas have formed, notably north of the New Siberian Islands and east of Severnaya Zemlya. Open water areas have also developed near the coast in the southern Beaufort Sea and west of Utqiaġvik, Alaska (formerly Barrow). Overall, ice retreat during May occurred primarily in the Bering and Barents Seas, the Sea of Okhotsk and within the Laptev Sea.
Image Credit: NASA