Once-icy Arctic now Great 'Wet' North
YELLOWKNIFE, N.W.T. - Normally, when Jimmie Qaapik looks out his window in Canada's northernmost community at this time of year, he sees a bay choked with sea ice.
This year, he shields his eyes from the sunlight reflecting off the water, which is open as far as he can see from Grise Fiord, a hamlet of 170 on the southern tip of Ellesmere Island, just 1,500 kilometres from the North Pole.
"Usually the ice doesn't go until about the middle or towards the end of August, and it was ice-free in July," he said. "We had a cruise ship come in yesterday. That's never happened this early, ever...."
"When you look at the Arctic, it was the warmest winter on record," said David Phillips, senior climatologist for Environment Canada.
"I mean, you had rain in Iqaluit in February -- they've never had that before. And they were anywhere from four to seven degrees warmer than normal. There was no winter in the North....
The trend was felt across the country, which averaged 2.9 C above normal this January to July -- a new record. But it was most pronounced in the Arctic, where mainland temperatures in the first seven months of 2006 soared 3.5 C above a 30-year average -- the highest ever for that time of year.
As a result, satellite images show less Arctic sea ice in July than ever. Normally, the Arctic is covered in 10.1 million square kilometres of sea ice in July. This year, it was down to 8.7 million square kilometres -- a loss of an area larger than Peru.
Yellowknife is known for their Auroras. They have an Aurora Festival in February.
Other Aurora links:
Aurora Web Cam
POE Satellite report