Each winter ice arches form in the Nares Strait which prevent the flow of sea ice from the Arctic Ocean south into warmer waters. Preventing the flow of the ice is important for many reasons, but perhaps the most important is that is keeps the older thicker ice from being transported out of the Arctic Ocean.
Older thicker ice is very important to the stability of the Arctic Ocean and the prevention of the collapse of the ice sheet. If the old ice is lost then only new thiner ice is formed each winter, which melts during the summer months, thus making the ice sheet weaker year on year
Normally, in early summer, the ice arch collapses in the south near Pim Island which opens up the flow into Baffin Bay. However, sometimes the arch doesn't form or collapses much earlier. Additionally, over the last 30 years the arch has collapsed earlier in the season. All of this results in the Arctic Ocean being depleted of its older thick ice.
The Great Arctic Swim will highlight the importance of the Nares Strait southern ice arch throughout the expedition. The swim will take place along the edge of the ice arch and will use it as the backdrop to not only the race against time for our swim, but the race against time for our planet.
THIS YEAR THE ICE ARCH DID NOT FORM
The Great Arctic Swim was originally scheduled for May/June 2022. For the second time in 4 years, the ice arch has not formed. This has a devastating affect on the lives of the Inuit, Polars Bears, and all living creatures of the Arctic.
This image shows the Southern end of the Nares Strait when the ice arch is still intact. The arch has the affect of being the bathtub plug for the ice
This image shows the start of the collapse. Once the collapse begins ice in the strait will begin flowing south out of the Arctic Ocean
This image shows the result of the complete collapse, which is just a few days after the start in the image depicted above.
This image shows the affects of the empty Nares Strait. The ice in the Arctic Ocean can be seen breaking up and flowing south unobstructed .