Can you kayak around Svalbard? In March?
We’re rapidly approaching the sea ice maximum for the Arctic Ocean, and yet, it’s almost possible to kayak around Svalbard?
With the warming Arctic, we no longer have the degree of sea ice here. At the beginning of the month, sea ice around Svalbard is 270,192 sq km, or 117,691 sq km below the 1991-2020 average.
When the ice is thin and weak, wave action and winds further can prevent it from consolidating into the fast/pack ice that traditionally envelops the archipelago. According to Norwegian Meteorological Institute (sat data from Copernicus), the recent prevailing winds have been southerlies, but they are swinging around, which may help the drift ice strengthen–either way, at a time when Arctic ice should be at its strongest, it’s consequentially absent.
This is coming at the same time as the climate crisis is holding tight onto the other pole. Two weeks ago, Antarctica hit its lowest recorded sea ice extent.
Check out our page on global risks to get a good idea about how climate change in the polar regions spells disaster for the entire world: https://arcticrisk.org/global-risks/
Image source: Norwegian Meteorological Institute