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01 Mar 2012: NASA Images Depict
Rapid Loss of Thick Arctic Sea Ice

A new comparison of satellite images from 1980 and 2012 vividly depicts the rapid disappearance of thick, multi-year Arctic Ocean ice in winter. Over the past three decades, the extent of the Arctic’s thickest ice has

Click to enlarge
NASA Sea Ice 1980 2012

NASA
Arctic sea ice, 1980-2012
declined by 15 to 17 percent per decade, according to NASA climate scientist Joey Comiso. Using passive microwave sensors and other technology from NASA and U.S. Defense Department satellites, Comiso has shown that the thickest Arctic sea ice — formed over many years — has gone from covering most of the Arctic basin in winter to covering only about a third of the basin. In the images (left), based on data collected from November 1 through January 31, multi-year Arctic sea ice is shown in bright white, while thinner sea ice — often less than two years old — is shown in light blue and milky white. By 2012, thick Arctic sea ice had retreated to an area north of Greenland and Canada’s Arctic Archipelago, according to the images, published in the Journal of Climate. The loss of thick ice is a major reason why the extent of summer sea ice in the Arctic has declined precipitously in recent decades, since thinner ice more easily melts in the face of rising air and sea temperatures.


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