Laptev Wall and Nunavut Gauntlet

Update August 14, 2016

It appears that Northabout has found a way around the Laptev wall, and is close to finding open water.  Below the Google Earth image of ice edges from NIC shows how the strait has opened up along with navigable shore lines.


Imagery date refers to Google Earth capture of land forms. Ice edges are provided by MASIE for August 13, 2016.

The Big Picture from August 11, 2016.

masie_August 11rev

The Polar Ocean Challenge involves the sailing ship Northabout circumnavigating the North Pole counterclockwise starting from Bristol UK. The chart above from MASIE shows the two choke points in the itinerary: The Laptev Wall of ice at the beginning and the Nunavut Gauntlet of ice at the end. The image shows If Northabout can get past Laptev, it is relatively clear sailing all the way to Beaufort where Nunavut awaits.


The above chart from AARI shows how Northabout has passed through the strait from Kara into Laptev and is in a holding pattern up against the wall.  Caleb has some great photos (here) of the views from the deck, along with some comments respecting the explorers despite their being misled by global warming theorists.


Above is the latest chart from AARI showing the present ice situation at the other end of the trip, the Nunavut Gauntlet.  The white part is without data since the Russians are focused on their side of the ocean, but it does show heavy ice in Beaufort Sea on the right,  Within Nunavut, Parry Channel is well blocked, but with some water around the edges.  If and when Northabout gets here, no one knows what they will face.  They are counting on the passage opening this year, unlike previous years.

An image of the ice and snow extents from NOAA by way of National Ice Center (NIC)

A closeup of Nunavut from that chart shows they have a chance by using the southern route, skipping all but the eastern end of Parry Channel, provided the ice is better not worse than now when they approach.



Another view of the Arctic is available from NIC using Google Earth.  The daily shapefile can be downloaded, and it then opens in Google Earth, which allows you to browse and zoom in on regions of interest.  Here is an image from this source:


Note: Imagery date is Google Earth capture of land masses. Ice edges are 20160812 from NIC.



  1. Hifast · August 12, 2016

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.


  2. Caleb · August 12, 2016

    Interesting maps and insights. The Northwest passage must seem a long, long ways ahead for them right now

    Their planned route is along the coast of Alaska, refueling at Barrow, and in to the passage through Amundsen Gulf, and to only head north to the very eastern end of Parry Sound, to avoid the ice in the sound to the west.

    The real surprise to me is the return of sea-ice to the coast if Alaska. It is spotty, but back in April it looked like Beaufort Sea would be swept clear of ice this summer.

    The great thing about this sort of adventurer is the pictures of things satellites miss. Such as that huge iceburg.


    • Ron Clutz · August 12, 2016

      Thanks Caleb for the info on their route, which I had not checked. It makes sense to use the southern channels that melt out early and refreeze late. That means they pin their hopes on McClintock passage.


      • Caleb · August 12, 2016

        They want south winds. North winds can bring the ice south on the other side of the Lena River in the East Siberian Sea, and at Barrow, and in parts of the NW Passage itself.

        All in all, quite the undertaking.


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