Canadian Sea Ice 2011

As in years  past, I’ve been enjoying watching the sea ice form.  I get the daily ice data and then try to predict where the next days ice will form based on wind, currents and water temperatures.  This year my beloved AMSR-E satellite broke which was my favorite data source as it’s microwave sounder was adept at differentiating ice, cloud, snow, and other scattering problems.

I tried doing my own satellite interpretation but quickly found this too difficult.  Here is an example of the daily AQUA satellite pictures I was trying to look at:

As you can see its hard to really be sure whether you’re looking at clouds or ice.  These daily images I get from

Rather than squint and guess, I’m instead relying on the Canadian Ice Service charts made from daily RADARSAT images.  These are great and provide lots of information once you learn the “egg code.”  Above is today’s data for the Amundsen Gulf at the southern boundary of the Canadian Archipelago.

So, what’s going on up north this year?

Fortunately, since taking an interest in ice formation, I’ve saved all the data I’ve been collecting for easy comparisons.  Below is Oct 26 2010 iceYou can see how much more ice there is in Canada this year when compared to the picture below for the same day in 2011.By my rough approximations, there seems to be about 300,000 km  more Canadian ice at this time than last year.  You may also notice the east coat of Greenland has ice crawling several hundred kilometers further south than last year.  This was due to extreme winds that pushed floating ice from the Laptev and East Siberian Seas.  This has ice formation seasonally later than average in those regions.

Getting exact areas of specific regions of interest is also possible through the MAISE  data.  MAISE is the multi-sensor analyzed sea extent.  From their website you can download a KMZ file, import it to Google Earth, draw the polygons you wish to calculate, export that data as a KML file, then use an online KML polygon area calculator to get an exact area!

Following through then, I calculate 251 407 km2 extra ice in the Baffin Bay compared to last year.  Here’s a screen shot of the whirlwind data exporting and importing.  I didn’t take the time to make the polygon perfect or exact, it’s more just to show how it can be done.  

The funny thing  is how many great tools I’ve discovered since my favorite satellite went dead!  I used to get AMSR-E to provide me with everything. Now that its gone, I think I’m enjoying following the ice more now that I’ve had to dig up various data sources and cool tools and resources.  AMSR-E’s replacement is set to go into orbit in February.







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