The M'Clure Strait (sometimes rendered McClure Strait) is a strait on the edge of the Canadian Northwest Territories. It forms the northwestern end of the Parry Channel which extends east all the way to Baffin Bay and is thus a possible route for the Northwest Passage. The strait was named for Robert McClure, an Irish Arctic explorer serving in the Royal Navy. He was the first man to traverse the North-West Passage (by boat and sledge).
The strait connects the Beaufort Sea in the west with Viscount Melville Sound in the east. It is bounded by Prince Patrick Island, Eglinton Island and Melville Island on the north and Banks Island on the south. As the strait is chronically blocked with thick ice, it is usually impassable to ships; in 1969, the United States-registered tanker SS Manhattan was freed from the ice by a Canadian icebreaker, and forced to travel through Canadian territorial waters to complete its westward passage. Ice prevented Manhattan from going through McClure Strait so the vessel sailed through the Prince of Wales Strait. There is a dispute between Canada and the United States over the waters of the Arctic Islands, other than those within 12 mi (19 km) of shore.
The M'Clure Strait became fully open (ice-free) in early August 2007, and again in August 2008. The European Space Agency reported that the Arctic's Northwest Passage opened up fully sea ice free, clearing a lane through the northern section of the historically impassable route between Europe and Asia.
On August 29, 2012 the sailboat Belzebub II with three sailors aboard, became the first sailboat to travel this route. David Scott Cowper also claims to have passed the strait on about the same date. The last icebreaker to transit was in 2002.
The M'Clure Strait lies within the M'Clure Rift which forms the western end of the Parry Submarine Rift Valley. It is considered a incipient rift zone because little extensional tectonism has taken place on it and no oceanic crust occurs in the middle of the strait.
- "Who Controls the Northwest Passage?" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-11-08. Retrieved 2012-08-07.
- "Satellites Witness Lowest Arctic Ice Coverage in History". esa.int. 14 September 2007. Retrieved 9 April 2019.
- Hamamdjian, Danielle (30 August 2012). "Sailors take northernmost trek through Arctic to highlight record thaw". CTV News. Retrieved 30 August 2012.
- Kerr, J. W. (1982). Nares Strait and the Drift of Greenland: A Conflict in Plate Tectonics. Museum Tusculanum Press. p. 227. ISBN 978-87-635-1150-6.
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