As of the 15 July the sea ice looks generally weaker and we have weeks of melting left. There is no sign of any strong winds which would hugely shift much of this material.
On the other hand the prevalence of sixty percent coverage throughout is saying a lot.
We have possibly another eight weeks of net melting to contend with and this looks like a lot of open areas are coming.
The western part of Lancaster Sound is still plugged, but this should go now. If all is similar to last year we should have an open North West Passage. That would be a remarkable three years straight. The message to shippers is that unless winter drops another half degree, this channel is open and likely open every year with a moderate risk of closing. In other words it is subject to bad weather.
We will not be sailing the north coast of Greenland yet but I think that opening up along the north coast of the Arctic islands is becoming possible with the right wind conditions.
In fact, this is showing us that we are on the last stage of the breakup of the Arctic sea ice pack. Nothing looks stable and there is now scant multiyear ice. A strong wind can reshape it all at will as surprisingly as 2007.
We are very much on schedule for essentially clear seas in 2012. Ice loss this year will be heavy and we can no longer expect any change over the next two. The sea ice will establish a new equilibrium between new winter ice and the summer melt out. Multi year ice will become insignificant and we will simply get a carry over from the past year that naturally rotates into warmer waters every year.