2011 is the first year since NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor, which launched on NASA’s Terra satellite in late 1999, has seen the tip of Hut Point Peninsula in McMurdo Sound, free of sea ice. The images below show the same location in 2003, 2006, 2008 and 2011.
Hunt Point Peninsula is named for the hut that was built by Captain Robert Falcon Scott upon his arrival on McMurdo Sound in 1902, aboard their ship the Discovery. The 47 men set about building their hut, only to find that with the onset of winter ice, their ship was trapped. The following summer, Scott and his men found that the sea ice around what would later be named Hut Point Peninsula does not actually disappear every year.
From the NASA Earth Observatory’s Image of the Day:
Sea ice in McMurdo Sound fluctuates from year to year based on local currents and weather patterns. For much of the past decade (shown in the animation), the giant B-15 iceberg altered currents and trapped sea ice in McMurdo Sound. Sea ice still clogged the Sound when MODIS acquired the top left image on March 3, 2003. The iceberg broke apart in 2005, and the largest piece is visible in the 2006 image. Though the Sound was clearer in 2006, Hut Point Peninsula was still solidly encased. From 2008 through 2010, late-summer sea ice around Hut Point Peninsula changed very little. In the final image in the series, from February 25, 2011, the point of the peninsula is surrounded by open water.
For more information on Captain Scott’s mission to Antarctica, follow the link.