NASA Time-lapse Video Shows How Rapidly Arctic Ocean Is Losing Its Sea Ice

Posted: Oct 31 2016, 2:38am CDT | by , Updated: Oct 31 2016, 2:52am CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 

NASA Time-lapse Video Shows How Rapidly Arctic Ocean is Losing its Sea Ice in Three Decades
Credit: NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio
 

Incredible video shows the annual Arctic sea ice melt between September 1984 and September 2016

The frozen seawater floating on the Arctic Ocean is melting rapidly over the past few decades. As the oldest and thickest Arctic sea ice is thinning or declining, it is exposing more sea ice cap and making it more susceptible to rising temperatures and warming ocean. The more the older sea ice declines, the more it accelerates the pace of ice melting.

NASA has put together a time-lapse video that shows how fast Arctic Ocean is losing its sea ice over the past 30 years or so. In this less than 3 minute animation, the drastic changes taking place on Arctic sea ice are shown as it pulses through the seasons. 

“What we’ve seen over the years is that the older ice is disappearing,” said Walt Meier, a sea ice researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

“This older, thicker ice is like the bulwark of sea ice: a warm summer will melt all the young, thin ice away but it can’t completely get rid of the older ice: a warm summer will melt all the young , thin ace away but it can’t completely get rid of the older ice. But this older ice is becoming weaker because there is a less of it and the remaining old ice is more broken up and thinner, so that bulwark is not as good as it used to be.”

Researchers have used data from a variety of sources, primarily satellite observations to create this time-lapse video. The video shows the annual visual description of Arctic sea ice melt from 1984 to 2016. In this way, it is helping track the evolution of Arctic ice over the years.

“It’s like bookkeeping; we’re keeping track of sea ice as it moves around, up until it melts in place or leaves the Arctic.” Meier said.

Sea ice forms and grows in winters and melts in summer every year. But the sea ice that survives the melt season continues to thicken with each passing year and will become easier to melt in the years to come. In the video, the younger ice is shown in dark blue shade whereas the ice that is five years or older is shown as white.

“Unlike in the 1980s, it’s not so much as ice being flushed out – though that’s still going on too,” said Meier. “What’s happening now more is that the old ice is melting within the Arctic Ocean during the summertime. One of the reasons is that the multilayer ice used to be a pretty consolidated ice pack and now we are seeing relatively smaller chunks of old ice interspersed with younger ice. These isolated floes of thicker ice are much easier to melt.”

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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