This video, from the jet coming in for a landing, (likely on April 4,2016) gives one a clear idea of the state of the ice up there. Cracks can already be seen on the ice-runway. (Single frame of above video seen below)
Here is a ground-level picture of the further “cracking” on the runway which closed the ice-runway after the jet landed. (I think the jet took off again, and no jet is currently “stranded”.)
This looks more like the formation of a “pressure ridge” than the opening up of a “lead”, which means, (if one wants to get into semantics), that the problem is that the ice is getting thicker, not that it is thinning out.
The ice remains active, even as they frantically work on a new runway nearby. This morning (April 6) a translation of the official report reads, “He said that early in the morning seen from the eastern side in the distance a strong ridging, active processes of moving ice masses continues.”
It seems every available hand is working on the new runway.
These problems explain why some Russians are pushing for a sort of sea-ice aircraft carrier to be built. (It wouldn’t need to be all that much larger than some their humongous ice-breakers.) If such a beast-of-a-boat was built they wouldn’t need to bother with the fickle nature of sea-ice.
Below is a recent picture of an area where, rather than pressure ridges forming, leads are forming. In some places the ice is converging (pressure-ridges) and in other places it is diverging (leads). Both events are the status quo within what is, after all, an ocean, and always in motion. It also should be noted that even after the sun rises air temperatures have been recorded down near minus 40 (which is the same both in Fahrenheit and Celsius) so the new leads swiftly skim over with ice, because the exposed water is right at the freezing point. In the picture below new, slightly skimmed and skimmed-and-snow-dusted leads can be seen.
Correction—The above picture is from the Barneo Facebook page, and, because it is beside a picture of a chef in the Barneo kitchen from two years ago, it may also be from two years ago. I apologize for saying it was “recent” when I am in fact unsure when it was taken.
Explanation—The Arctic Sea is an “ocean in motion”, and the “speed and drift” of the sea-ice can be seen in the Naval Research Labs maps provided on their wonderful site here:
The most recent map, below, shows examples of both convergence (which will create thicker ice and pressure ridges), and divergence (which will create thinner ice and leads of open water.)
If you look at the above map at the site of Barneo, above the Pole, you can see the ice is slowing down. Light blue is turning to darker blue, and longer arrows are running up against shorter arrows. It may be helpful to think of traffic during a rush hour, and what happens when fast traffic comes to slower traffic, but imagine the bergs have bad drivers and no brakes. Pile-ups are occurring, called “pressure ridges”. All in all, the ice is actually getting thicker.
Then look north of Alaska, where strong winds are speeding the ice away from shore. Open water will appear between the shore and the departing ice. This open water is called a “polynya”, when it is next to shoreline, and a “lead”, when it is next to slower ice. (If you look ahead of the Alaskan ice, you will see the red giving way to blue, which indicates a pile-up is occurring north of Bering Strait.)
Forgive me if this is boring, but I feel a need to educate the public, which is at times being grossly misinformed by sensationalist branches of the media. You may see pictures of open water and be told it is due to CO2, when it is in fact due to the wind. Then you may see pictures of thickening ice and hear it is due to a coming ice age, when in fact it is once again due to the wind.
Once you are educated to the true nature of the sea-ice you escape the attempts of the media to milk you as a chump, and can instead laugh at their pathetic attempts to bolster unsubstantiated politics with feeble propaganda. In doing this you will honor the belief our forefathers had that an educated public is a good thing.
I should add that, because winds can swiftly change in the arctic, the above map can change swiftly. Converging ice can become diverging ice, and then converge again. The Arctic Sea is an ocean in motion.