Anomalous collapses of Nares Strait ice arches leads to enhanced export of Arctic sea ice

Nat Commun. 2021 Jan 4;12(1):1. doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-20314-w.


The ice arches that usually develop at the northern and southern ends of Nares Strait play an important role in modulating the export of Arctic Ocean multi-year sea ice. The Arctic Ocean is evolving towards an ice pack that is younger, thinner, and more mobile and the fate of its multi-year ice is becoming of increasing interest. Here, we use sea ice motion retrievals from Sentinel-1 imagery to report on the recent behavior of these ice arches and the associated ice fluxes. We show that the duration of arch formation has decreased over the past 20 years, while the ice area and volume fluxes along Nares Strait have both increased. These results suggest that a transition is underway towards a state where the formation of these arches will become atypical with a concomitant increase in the export of multi-year ice accelerating the transition towards a younger and thinner Arctic ice pack.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't