Landfast Sea Ice Conditions in the Canadian Arctic: 1983 – 2009


  • Ryan J. Galley
  • Brent G.T. Else
  • Stephen E.L. Howell
  • Jennifer V. Lukovich
  • David G. Barber



sea ice, landfast, coastal, climatology, variability, trends, Canadian Arctic, onset, breakup, duration, Northwest Passage


We used Canadian Ice Service (CIS) digital charts from 1983 to 2009 to create a climatology of landfast sea ice in the Canadian Arctic. The climatology characterized the spatial distribution and variability of landfast ice through an average annual cycle and identified the mean onset date, breakup date, and duration of landfast ice. Trends in date and duration of onset and breakup were calculated over the 26-year period on the basis of CIS regions and sub-regions. In several sub-regions— particularly in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago—we calculated significant trends towards later landfast ice onset or earlier breakup, or both. These later onset and earlier breakup dates translated into significant decreases in landfast ice duration for many areas of the Canadian Arctic. For communities located in the most affected areas, including Tuktoyaktuk, Kugluktuk, Cambridge Bay, Gjoa Haven, Arctic Bay, and Pond Inlet, this shorter landfast ice season is of significant social, cultural, and economic importance. Landfast sea-ice duration in the interior of the Northwest Passage has not undergone any statistically significant decrease over the time series.