Saturday, June 19, 2010

June in Arctic Canada

Earth Observatory: Starting on June 6, everywhere north of the Arctic Circle is bathed in sunlight 24 hours a day... Signs of winter are still present, but sea ice in the Beaufort Sea has started to break up. A swath of open water, black in this image, separates the land from the dense pack of sea ice... In many places, particularly around Banks Island, the land-bound sea ice is blue, pointing to thin ice or the presence of water on the ice...

While frozen lakes punctuate the landscape with white, many lakes are clear. The Mackenzie River flows ice-free to a broad partially frozen delta. Trapped behind a dam of ice, the muddy brown waters blur across the triangular delta. The water that is getting through the ice carries sediment into the Beaufort Sea, coloring the waters near the short brown and green.

With access to constant light, flowing water, and warmer temperatures, plants are beginning to grow. The land around the Mackenzie River has a deep green hue. The line between tundra and forest runs through this image. The forest is dark green, while the tundra is still brown.