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
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.
Yale Environment 360 is
a publication of the
Yale School of Forestry
& Environmental Studies
Yale Environment 360
articles are now available in Spanish and Portuguese on Universia
, the online educational network. Visit the site.
Business & Innovation
Policy & Politics
Pollution & Health
Science & Technology
Antarctica and the Arctic
Central & South America
A three-part series Tainted Harvest
looks at the soil pollution crisis in China, the threat it poses to the food supply, and the complexity of any cleanup. Read the series.
is now available for mobile devices at e360.yale.edu/mobile
The Warriors of Qiugang
, a Yale Environment 360
video, chronicles a Chinese village’s fight against a polluting chemical plant. It was nominated for a 2011 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short.
Watch the video.
Top Image: aerial view of Iceland
. © Google & TerraMetrics.
, winner of the Yale Environment 360 Video Contest, documents the work of African researchers monitoring wildlife in Uganda's remote Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Watch the video.