NASA’s Terra satellite passed over the East Siberian and Laptev Seas on a cloud free day in mid-June, 2013 allowing a dramatic look at the progress of the spring sea ice melt in the region. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) captured this true-color image on June 16, 2013.
In the lengthening sunlight and warming temperatures, snow has retreated from the arctic tundra of the Sakha (Yakutia) Republic, a vast land of 3,083,523 square kilometers (1,190,555 sq mi, and a population of less than 1 million. About 40% of Sakha lies above the Arctic Circle. Near the center of the image, the New Siberian Islands retain a wind-blown snow cover, and are surrounded by the icy waters of the Laptev Sea (west) and East Siberian Sea (east).
In this image, bright white, thick ice is fast against the Siberian Islands, while thinner ice, indicated by a light blue tint, hugs the Sakha shores. Not far from shore, the ice has cracked and melt has begun, with copious amounts of blue water visible in the Laptev Sea. The East Siberian Sea remains covered with ice, but it is fragmented and light in color, looking much like chunky slush.
These seas are ice-covered for 9-10 months of the year, with ice minimums normally reached in August, just in time for shortening sunlight and plummeting temperatures to begin to re-freeze the frigid waters.