Spatial and temporal variability of sea ice in the southern Beaufort Sea and Amundsen Gulf: 1980–2004

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Abstract

[1] Changing extent, location, and motion of the Arctic perennial pack affect the annual evolution of seasonal ice zones. Canadian Ice Service digital ice charts covering the southern Beaufort Sea and Amundsen Gulf are used to illustrate summer and winter conditions and trends between 1980 and 2004 for several sea ice stages of development. Results illustrate average sea ice conditions within the region in summer and winter for predominant sea ice types and changes in the relative concentration of sea ice types in summer and winter. In summer, a trend toward increased old sea ice concentration occurred near the mouth of Amundsen Gulf, with a trend toward decreasing summer first-year sea ice farther west. In winter, increasing thick first-year sea ice extent appears to be replacing young sea ice within the flaw lead system in the region. The dynamically driven breakup of sea ice in spring in the Amundsen Gulf is a highly variable event taking anywhere between 2 and 22 weeks to completely remove ice from the gulf. The timing and duration of the open water season depends upon the extent and timing of old ice influx. Freezeup occurs very quickly, proceeding from west to east with little temporal variability. The results of this paper are used to set the context for the Canadian Arctic Shelf Exchange Study (CASES) in terms of sea ice dynamic and thermodynamic processes.

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