Interannual variability of ice cover across Davis Strait and the Labrador Sea for the period from 1979 to 2023

  • Е. Maliuha
  • R. Gavriluk
Keywords: ice cover, Davis Strait, the Labrador Sea, Northwest Passage, spread of ice


In conditions of rapid development of trade and transport communications, the issue of navigation through ice regime zones became of greater importance. In particular, reduction of the area of ice cover in the Canadian Arctic because of global warming opens up favourable prospects for further development of maritime shipping in this zone. Considering that the routes through the Northwest Passage are the shortest ones of all the routes connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, it is clear that all aspects of this topic are of great importance and relevance. This especially applies to the aspects dedicated to studying the characteristics of appearance, formation, concentration, physical characteristics, trajectory of ice movement and forecasting the area of the ice cover in a given zone, i.e. the characteristics affecting the conditions of ice navigation and serving as determining factors in terms of navigation safety.

The research examines some of these issues, namely the spread of the ice cover during the period of its maximum formation across Davis Strait and the Labrador Sea (where the routes through the Northwest Passage start) and the establishment of statistical relations between the ice spread and the temperatures of surface water and surface air. The research method to be used: synoptic-climatic and statistical analysis of numerical series of ice cover deviations from its average limit as of April 15 over the period of 1979-2023 within the zone in study.

Based on the set goal, the study processed raw data on distribution of ice cover across Davis Strait and the Labrador Sea for the period of 1979-2023 and completed its statistical analysis. The results of the analysis showed presence of a statistically significant negative trend and cyclical fluctuations with periods of 3-6, 9, 10 and 13 years in relation to the interannual variability of ice cover distribution for the studied period. Positive trends are also observed in the interannual variability of surface water temperature and surface air temperature. After bringing the original series to a quasi-stationary form, a correlation analysis of the relationships between the ice cover distribution and the temperature of water and air was carried out. The results of the analysis determined zones and points with statistically significant correlation coefficients between them during the year. It turned out that the highest values of coefficients are observed from December to March, and the maximum one occurs in March.

Systematization and analysis of the ice field across Davis Strait and the Labrador Sea during the period of maximum development made it possible to establish that the spread of ice between 60° and 55° north parallels was the most stable during the studied period, and the least stable was observed in the area below 55° north parallel.

The results of the conducted research open up prospects for development of methods for forecasting the distribution of ice cover across Davis Strait and the Labrador Sea. This will make ice navigation in this area safer.


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How to Cite
MaliuhaЕ., & Gavriluk, R. (2023). Interannual variability of ice cover across Davis Strait and the Labrador Sea for the period from 1979 to 2023. Ukrainian Hydrometeorological Journal, (32), 80-94.