Winter Comes Early

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Image for September 13 of Proliv Vil’kitskogo shows multi-year ice continues to advance South and indicates formation of new ice

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Image for September 12 of Proliv Vil’kitskogo shows multi-year ice continues to advance South and indicates formation of new ice

When the images are viewed at maximum zoom the extent to which Winter is advancing early becomes apparent. The inshore channel past PVK is now a series of patches of clear water between solid ice. The ice is expanding rapidly and growing thicker as multi-year ice is moved down by the wind.

Given all the claims for Global Warming this may seem confusing.

The wildest claims are that we are about to see the permanent removal of ice in the Arctic through a long summer. Climate has been in a continual state of change since the Earth and its surrounding atmosphere formed. The last few thousand years have been unusually stable. Today we do not know whether the change is progressing to higher temperatures, or to a rapid heating. We also do not know whether the change is still going to remain within the band of relatively stable temperatures or return to the older patterns of wild fluctuations.

In dealing with short term forecasting, small temperature changes can produce some dramatic effects. Looking back over the last seven years of Arctic weather and ice movement along the Russian Northern Sea Route, the last two years have demonstrated a shorter summer with ice receding slowly to a point closer to the coast. Indications are that the trend is to shorter summers, but that could reverse again in later years.

Just because Adrian is heading for Tiksi doesn’t mean that the Alpha Global team are not carefully watching the ice movement. Adrian is keeping close in to the coast to avoid the drift ice that is moving South. His latest position is just off the bottom right corner of the radar scan for September 12 (just into the darker area) with thicker drift ice moving closer to the coast.

Once he arrives in Tiksi ice watching continues to be important to the expedition because the ice-hardened merchant ship that is due to carry Barrabas through the Strait will have to cut through thickening ice and is not expected to be ready to sail until September 23. Not only does this mean that the merchant ship will have to deal with worsening conditions, but that the conditions further to the West will also deteriorate.

The high grade images supplied to the Alpha Global Expedition by MDA/KSAT are essential to planning the stages of the expedition from Tiksi to Murmansk and into the Norwegian Sea