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Seasonal Summary for the Canadian Arctic Waters - Summer 2011

Eastern and High Arctic

May 2011

Mean air temperatures were near normal over most locations except above normal over the High Arctic and the northern section of Baffin Bay (see Table 2). A light to moderate northerly flow developed over the High Arctic, while light and variable winds dominated over the rest of the Eastern Arctic. With delayed freeze-up during the winter season and thinner than normal ice, the ice started to decay along the eastern edge of the pack ice in Baffin Bay. Nares Strait did consolidate during the winter season which was the first time since 2008. After mid-May, large areas of bergy water developed early in the season over eastern Barrow Strait, western Lancaster Sound and in the extreme northwestern section of Baffin Bay. The rest of the Eastern Arctic was covered with first-year ice, while the ice north and west of Resolute was consolidated. Just before Nares Strait consolidated during the winter season, areas of up to 2 tenths of old ice drifted over the western section of Baffin Bay as far south as Cape Dyer. Very narrow bands of old ice were also observed in Prince Regent Inlet and along the southern shore of Lancaster Sound. Greater than normal ice concentrations of old ice were present over Pelly Bay, northern Jones Sound, southern Norwegian Bay and Eureka Sound. Mid-May ice conditions, as well as the departure from median ice concentrations, are shown in Figure 13 and Figure 14, respectively .

June 2011

Mean air temperatures were above normal over the whole area (see Table 2). Most of the rapid ice melt occurred over southern and northwestern Baffin Bay, in Lancaster Sound and off the consolidated ice along the eastern shore of Baffin Island. The bergy water lead along the Greenland Coast slowly expanded to lie south of 74°30’N at the end of the month. The ice loosened up very quickly over southern and western Baffin Bay during the second half of June. Consequently, an open drift or less route to Home Bay developed during the last week of June which set a new record as the earliest date since 1968. At the end of the month, an area of first-year ice with up to 2 tenths of old ice was still present over the rest of Baffin Bay and from Prince Regent Inlet to northern Committee Bay. Large areas of bergy water dominated south of the ice bridge in Kane Basin, in eastern Jones Sound and from Lancaster Sound to eastern Barrow Strait. Over these areas, broken fast ice coming out of bays and inlets were present along the shores. The ice bridge over Kane Basin started to fracture over the central section but the rest of the ice remained solid for the whole month. The rest of the Eastern Arctic remained consolidated but some of the ice started to break up over Queens Channel and southwestern Barrow Strait. Mid-June ice conditions, as well as the departure from median ice concentrations, are shown in Figure 15 and Figure 16, respectively.

July 2011

Mean air temperatures were well above normal over the whole Eastern Arctic (see Table 2). As a result, the ice decayed at a faster pace than normal over most regions. Even the presence of old ice in the pack ice didn’t slow down the ice melt during the month. Most of the breakup events over the Eastern and High Arctic occurred during the first two weeks of July. Some of the fracture events near Resolute and over the High Arctic set new records for this month as being the earliest dates since 1968. The consolidated ice in Kane Basin fractured in early July. A persistent east to southeasterly flow pushed the ice that came from Kane Basin towards the eastern shore of Ellesmere Island. This prevented the ice from drifting south of Jones Sound during the month. During the first half of July, the ice melted rapidly over Baffin Bay and in Parry Channel. As a result, a bergy water route developed across northern Baffin Bay, over the eastern portion of Parry Channel and southern Eureka Sound during the second week of July. First-year ice with up to 2 tenths of old ice was still present over northern Admiralty Inlet, from western Jones Sound to eastern Norwegian Bay and from Prince Regent Inlet to north of Pelly Bay. Open drift ice prevailed over the rest of Eureka Sound and in Pelly Bay. The ice decay continued to accelerate during the second half of July so much so that much lower than normal ice concentrations were observed over the whole area. Only small areas of first-year ice with some old ice were present over the north central section of Baffin Bay and along the shipping route to Eureka. Most shipping routes leading to Nanisivik, Resolute and Thule were free of ice at the end of the month. Due to the easterly winds experienced during the month, the ice was compacted over the western section of the Gulf of Boothia and southwestern Barrow Strait. The ice melted completely over Pelly Bay at the end of the month. Mid-July ice conditions, as well as the departure from median ice concentrations, are shown in Figure 17 and Figure 18, respectively.

August 2011

Mean air temperatures continued to remain well above normal over the whole Eastern Arctic (see Table 2). Rapid ice melt which started in the previous month continued into this month. As a result, ice conditions continued to clear rapidly into areas where the ice is usually present at this time of year. During the first half of August, the ice melted completely along the eastern shore of Baffin Island, in Jones Sound, southwestern Barrow Strait and the northern section of Gulf of Boothia. Meanwhile, a small area of open drift ice was present over the north central section of Baffin Bay between 74°N and 75°N where it lasted until the end of August. The ice which was drifting out of Kane Basin melted along the shore of Ellesmere Island and remained north of Jones Sound. Only isolated areas of very open drift old ice persisted in Norwegian Bay and Eureka Sound. A persistent easterly flow over the southwestern section of the Gulf of Boothia maintained the ice compacted along the western shore just north of Pelly Bay. Much lower than normal ice concentrations were observed over Committee Bay and north of Cornwallis Island. After mid-August, the ice started to melt completely in areas where it doesn’t normally clear. For the first time ever, all the shipping routes into the Eastern Arctic were clear of ice which was never been seen since 1968. The only exception was north of Pelly Bay where an area of compacted first-year ice with some old ice was still present. For a short period of time, a narrow route of bergy water did develop into Pelly Bay towards the end of the month. Very open drift old ice was still present from north of Jones Sound to Nares Strait. This year, the ice cleared out of Eureka Sound during the last week of August. The ice coverage for the end of August set a new record for the Eastern Arctic as the lowest minimum ice coverage ever recorded since 1968. Mid-August ice conditions, as well as the departure from median ice concentrations, are shown in Figure 19 and Figure 20, respectively.

September 2011

Mean air temperatures were again above normal over the whole Eastern Arctic but daily temperatures started to decrease from last month (see Table 2). The ice continued to melt during the first two weeks of September. During that time, ice concentrations north of Pelly Bay continued to decrease rapidly but some of the ice started to drift into northern Pelly Bay. For the rest of the month, most of the ice melted completely over southern regions except for a narrow band of ice which remained along the northern shore of Simpson Peninsula. Much lower than normal ice concentrations prevailed over most of the Eastern Arctic during the month. Very open drift old ice was still present along Ellesmere Island north of Jones Sound and in western Norwegian Bay. After mid-September, an increasing amount of old ice was starting to drift into Nares Strait and in western Norwegian Bay, as northwesterly winds developed over the area. Bergy water was still dominating over the rest of the Eastern Arctic. This turns out to be a record year for the lowest minimum ice coverage observed over the Eastern Arctic for early September since 1968 (see Figure 12). New and grey ice started to form over the High Arctic near mid-September and for the rest of the Central Arctic at the end of September. Mid-September ice conditions, as well as the departure from median ice concentrations, are shown in Figure 21 and Figure 22, respectively.

Minimum Ice Coverage for the Eastern Arctic on September 3, 2011.
Figure 12: Minimum Ice Coverage for the Eastern Arctic on September 03, 2011. [data]

Table 2: 2011 Temperatures and departures from normal (°C) for the Eastern Arctic
Stations MayJuneJulyAugustSeptember
TempDepartTempDepartTempDepartTempDepartTempDepart
Eureka-8.52.55.53.89.84.36.54.1-6.31.6
Resolute-9.31.52.83.28.94.95.33.9-2.92.1
Pond Inlet-9.00.24.32.78.12.37.63.6-0.51.3
Clyde-8.6-0.42.01.55.21.05.21.41.21.5
Kugaaruk-7.80.04.21.311.93.210.23.82.22.1

Eastern Arctic Regional chart for May 16, 2011.
Figure 13: Eastern Arctic Regional chart for May 16, 2011.

Departure from normal ice concentration on May 16, 2011 for the Eastern Arctic.
Figure 14: Departure from normal ice concentration on May 16, 2011 for the Eastern Arctic.

Eastern Arctic Regional chart for June 13, 2011.
Figure 15: Eastern Arctic Regional chart for June 13, 2011.

Departure from normal ice concentration on June 13, 2011 for the Eastern Arctic.
Figure 16: Departure from normal ice concentration on June 13, 2011 for the Eastern Arctic.

Eastern Arctic Regional chart for July 18, 2011.
Figure 17: Eastern Arctic Regional chart for July 18, 2011.

Departure from normal ice concentration on July 18, 2011 for the Eastern Arctic.
Figure 18: Departure from normal ice concentration on July 18, 2011 for the Eastern Arctic.

Eastern Arctic Regional chart for August 15, 2011.
Figure 19: Eastern Arctic Regional chart for August 15, 2011.

Departure from normal ice concentration on August 15, 2011 for the Eastern Arctic.
Figure 20: Departure from normal ice concentration on August 15, 2011 for the Eastern Arctic.

Eastern Arctic Regional chart for September 12, 2011.
Figure 21: Eastern Arctic Regional chart for September 12, 2011.

Departure from normal ice concentration on September 12, 2011 for the Eastern Arctic.
Figure 22: Departure from normal ice concentration on September 12, 2011 for the Eastern Arctic.