By Steve Goddard
The Catlin Expedition is Now only 45 miles away from the North Pole. They have traveled 265 miles (as the crow flies) since March 3, for an average of about four miles per day. They only have a few days left on the ice and are caught in The Beaufort Gyre. They write:
Imagine being chilled to the very bone; where every step brings pain and discomfort; where there is no way of getting respite from a permanently aching back; where hauling a sledge twice your body weight is like dragging a car with the handbrake on; and where, despite trekking for over eight hours in the type of biting winds that feel like being relentlessly pecked at by invisible crows, you are getting nowhere. Literally nowhere. Caught on a polar treadmill that will happily drive you backwards if you stop your herculean efforts to…. Just. Keep. Going. Some 50-odd days into the expedition, and Ann, Charlie and Martin find themselves once again suffering from the powerful negative drift that persecuted them at the start of their mission. Aside from pressure ridges, open leads of water and large patches of thin ice, negative drift is one of the biggest factors affecting Arctic crossings. Psychologically, it is the most damaging of all.
Soon they can return home and report on the rapidly melting, highly acidic Arctic.
Temperatures in the Arctic are close to normal, and will be above freezing in about a month.
Arctic ice extent is also close to normal.
The big story during the last few days is the divergence between the different data sources.
JAXA (green) is nearly half a million km2 lower than NORSEX (red.) DMI (fine dots) and NSIDC (purple) are half way in between. All are within one standard deviation of the mean (i.e. normal.) Unfortunately the NSIDC computer has been naughty and hasn’t updated any of their graphs or maps since Friday.
This time of year shows almost no year over year variation in extent or area. Ice extent has now declined by over one million km2 since the late March peak. The modified NSIDC map below shows in red, the total melt since early April.
The next modified NSIDC map shows where ice has melted during the last week.
The modified NSIDC map below shows where ice is above normal (green) and below normal (red.)
Ice continues to be above normal on the Pacific side where the waters are running very cold, and below normal on the Atlantic side where the waters are running warm.
The Pacific side of the Arctic is where the anomalies (red) have mainly been the last few summers, so things are shaping up for a nice recovery this summer.
Modified September 3, 2008 map from http://nsidc.org/images/arcticseaicenews/20080904_Figure1.png
Within a few weeks, ice in the central Arctic will quit thickening and start to melt. Stay tuned. The next few weeks will be slow news.