On September 15, 2007, at the time of the Arctic sea ice minimum, the MODIS on NASA's Terra satellite captured an unusually clear view of the open Northwest Passage. Although clouds appeared over some of the Arctic in mid-September, skies were clear enough to allow Terra's MODIS sensor to observe much of the sea ice and open ocean throughout the Arctic.
This image is a mosaic of Terra observations of the Arctic, taken on September 15-16, 2007. Overlain onto the image are sea ice minima from 2007 (medium blue), the previous record from 2005 (light blue), and the long-term average from 1979-2000 (gray). The 2007 minimum, which correlates closely with the ice visible through clouds in this image, fell substantially below previous records. In 2007, all Arctic sea ice records were broken in August, more than a month before the end of melt season.
Text and image courtesy of NASA's MODIS Land Rapid Response Team.