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Seen from Space 2004

Coming of Pack Ice Season

 
Image 1 December 10, 2003 Image 2 January 1, 2004 Image 3 January 28, 2004

Sea-ice distribution in the Sea of Okhotsk acquired by Aqua/AMSR-E
 
Photo 1 Pack ice approaching Hokkaido
Coast of Tokoro-cho in Hokkaido in 1998

On January 28, pack ice came alongside the pier in Esashi-cho, a town on the coast of the Sea of Okhotsk in Hokkaido. In November of 2003, the north portion of the Sea of Okhotsk began to freeze, and the frozen area gradually extended south. AMSR-E Images 1, 2, and 3 illustrate this process. Also, we can see that half of the Sea of Okhotsk was already covered with pack ice on January 28 (Image 3).

 
Image 4 September 1, 2003 Image 5 January 27, 2004  
Sea-ice distribution in the northern hemisphere acquired by Aqua/AMSR-E
Animation
(AVI, 8.5MB)

AMSR-E Images 4 and 5 depict the sea-ice distribution in the northern hemisphere, observed from above the North Pole, on September 1, 2003, and January 27, 2004. (The black circle in the center of the image is an area that AMSR-E cannot observe.) Image 4 reveals perennial ice, or sea ice that remains frozen during summer. In the northern hemisphere, the area of perennial ice is shrinking during the summer; researchers are investigating the connection to global warming.

The Sea of Okhotsk is a typical sea area, making sea ice every year, despite its low latitudes. It is surrounded by continents and islands, and much freshwater pours into the area from the River Amur running through Siberia. It has a typical layer structure, with the salt level suddenly changing between the sea surface and deep layers. It is thought that this structure has some relationship with the forming of sea ice.

We update the pack-ice distribution in the Sea of Okhotsk daily in the "Pack-Ice Flash Report." In addition to AMSR-E images, we have included NASA MODIS images from January 29.
Pack-Ice Flash Report

Previous topics about sea ice and ice pack
Accelerated Sea-Ice Melting in the Arctic (Jan. 9, 2004)
Snow Ice in the Northern Hemisphere (April 2003) (Sep. 19, 2003)
Spring in the Arctic (July 10, 2003)
Snow-pack observation in Alaska - Quick Report (May 16, 2003)
Sea-ice observation in the Sea of Okhotsk (Feb. 27, 2003)
Sea-ice concentration and ice motion in the Sea of Okhotsk (Feb. 20, 2003)
AMSR First-light images: AMSR capturing the Japanese Islands / Sea-ice distribution in the Sea of Okhotsk (Jan. 20, 2003)


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