Changes in the Ice Pack in Baffin Bay

by Janusz Kurbiel

The size and extent of the ice sheet in the Artic varies considerably from one year to the next and from one region to another.

Our observations for the period between 1977 and 2015 indicate a direct correlation between the melting of the ice and the position of anticyclones in the Northern Hemisphere in relation with the trajectories of the depressions.

This is because they govern the air temperature, the sea temperature and the direction of the currents. Near the coast, the latter is influenced by the configuration of the land, which explains the polynyas (open areas of water within the ice pack), even in the very middle of winter.

In practice, it is very difficult planning the navigation in the region of the Baffin Island. We could only access certain parts of the East Coast in the month of August because in September it’s already winter there, due to the change in weather.

In 2013, 2014 and 2015, a sizeable amount of ice pack in August stopped us from our work of research and investigation on the land the whole way along the coast with our boat the Vagabond’elle.

To visualise the importance of the fluctuations of the size and extent of the ice pick in this particular region, here is an example of the maps from 2009, 2012 and 2015, from the debut of the season (end of July) until its end (end of August). Note yourselves the enormous difference between the many tens of thousands of km².

We hope that 2016 will be more favourable to us! Where the Inuit would say, “The ice is you master”, I would add: “And so is the weather”.

Baffin Bay

The images below show the ice pack difference from July to August for the years of 2009, 2012 and 2015

baffin bay 2009baffin bay august 2009








baffin bay 2012

baffin bay august 2012








baffin bay august 2015 baffin bay 2015

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