The NSIDC update of September 4th speculates on the possibility of the North-East Passage opening this year. If it did, this would allow a very, very fast boat to circumnavigate the entire Arctic Ocean (no, it’s not really feasible, this year).

Will the NE Passage open? It looks like it’ll be a close-run thing.

CT’s image is a bit coarse to see in detail what’s going on, but the IWICOS/IOMASA/Polarview/Damocles site has excellent high definition images extracted from satellite data, and in the ‘interactive’ section, an opportunity to choose the satellite and date of your choice and view the actual images. the best seem to be yesterday’s MERIS images.

All depends on whether the ice clears in the Laptev Sea, close to the coastline. From the overview image you can see that there is a substantial amount of open water there already. TBH, it’s hard to tell from the satellite images how much there is. But going back to CT, if you select the Laptev sea button, you’ll notice that the sea ice area has gone up a fraction in the past few days, which would suggest, on first impression, that it ain’t gonna happen.

Luckily, the Russian Met has it’s own website (English version, too) which has some sea ice pages. Most usefully, there is a forecast of ice drift for the next six days. This shows a slight drift towards the coast for the next two days, followed by three days of strong drift Northward, parallel to the key area. If this forcast is accurate, the ice currently in the Laptev area of the passage could clear away from the coastline.

It’s hard to give odds on this, but I’d say that there’s a fair-to-middling chance that the North East Passage will open, if only for a few days, from Monday to Wednesday of next week.

Anyone got the boat ready?