From year to year the Arctic Ocean Sea Ice conditions can vary dramatically. One year teams traveling to the North Pole might report vast pans of dead smooth ice with hardly any obstacles, while other years skiers experience ice that is on the move, clashing together to form pressure ridges or splitting apart to form wide leads of open water.
The first people to see what the ice is like on the ground will be the teams setting up ice station barneo (we heard today that the helicopters have finally left the mainland and are headed north to scout for a runway location on the ice...). Until they arrive all we have is the sea ice data gathered by satellite. In January a graph was released showing that the average sea ice extent was the lowest for that month in the satellite record (since 1979). The data for March showed much the same thing....this time the average sea ice extent was the second lowest for the month in the satellite record.
However, sea ice extent is the area covered. There is also data about concentration and this - for us - is slightly better news. The Snow and Ice Data Centre provides daily updates or sea ice concentration in the Arctic Ocean and it shows 100% concentration around the Pole. Could this mean a good year?
You can see the data for yourself at: http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/