A rapidly changing Arctic : ice-free north of Greenland !

The area north of Greenland has long been home for the thickest sea ice in the Arctic Ocean (and thus on Earth). The changing climate and increasing melt in the Arctic are now changing that. 

During last week, winds pushed fragile sea-ice off Greeland's northernmost coast, and opened an area of ice-free ocean. An earlier such event had happened late February this year. Because they fragilize the thick sea-ice cover close to the coast, such events can have strong implications on the total Arctic sea-ice volume at the end of the melt season (september).  

The animation above was produced by DTU-Space. The images are a combination of colours from the daily DTU-Space AMSR2 sea ice concentration (TUD algorithm), and the intensity is driven by the daily Copernicus Sentinel 1 A+B SAR mosaics. Icedrift vectors are from the DTU-Space/Copernicus CMEMS Sentinel 1 daily ice drift product. All images are available from www.seaice.dk.

This case is also a good example of why Europe needs the Copenicus Imaging Micowave Radiometer (CIMR) mission, to expand its polar monitoring capabilities in the 2030s. A high-resolution Passive Microwave instrument is indeed needed to complement the existing Copernicus Sentinel-1 SAR sea-ice capability. The Japanese mission AMSR2 -already 6 years old- is at present the only passive microwave instrument offering <5km spatial resolution.