Thousand-mile crack rips through increasingly brittle Arctic ice pack

This NASA satellite image shows the crack in the Arctic sea ice which extends from Ellesmere Island to Barrow, Alaska.
Arctic sea ice extent for February 2013 was 14.66 million square kilometers (5.66 million square miles). The magenta line shows the 1979 to 2000 median extent for that month. The black cross indicates the geographic North Pole.
National Snow and Ice Data Center

An enormous crack that formed in the Arctic ice pack this winter is believed to have been caused in part by a Feb. 8 storm that passed over the North Pole. Canada's Nunatsiaq News reports that an increase in recent years of thin, brittle first-year ice in the Arctic is leading to increased fracturing during winter. The new crack runs from Canada's Ellesmere Island to near Barrow. 


Similar cracks were observed in early 2011 and 2008, but “the 2013 fracturing is quite extensive,” [the NSIDC] ice update said.

Although Arctic sea ice is nearing its winter maximum and will soon begin its seasonal decline, ice extent also remains below average, the NSIDC said.

That’s in part due to warmer-than-average winter temperatures.

Read more at Nunatsiaq News and at the National Snow and Ice Data Center.