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NASA data shows Arctic Sea Ice 2019 Wintertime Extent Is Seventh Lowest

 

Written by Maria-Jose Vinas
NASA’s Earth Science News Team

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Sea ice in the Arctic appears to have hit its annual maximum extent after growing through the fall and winter. The 2019 wintertime extent reached on March 13th ties with 2007’s as the 7th smallest extent of winter sea ice in the satellite record, according to scientists at the NASA-supported National Snow and Ice Data Center and NASA.

This year’s maximum extent peaked at 5.71 million square miles (14.78 million square kilometers) and is 332,000 square miles (860,000 square kilometers) below the 1981 to 2010 average maximum – equivalent to missing an area of ice larger than the state of Texas.

A big lead, or opening in the sea ice pack, in the eastern Beaufort Sea, as seen from a NASA Operation IceBridge survey flight on Apr. 14, 2018. (NASA/Linette Boisvert)

A big lead, or opening in the sea ice pack, in the eastern Beaufort Sea, as seen from a NASA Operation IceBridge survey flight on Apr. 14, 2018. (NASA/Linette Boisvert)

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NASA reports Wintertime Arctic Sea Ice Growth Slows, Long-term Decline

 

Written by Maria-José Viñas
NASA’s Earth Science News Team

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – New NASA research has found that increases in the rate at which Arctic sea ice grows in the winter may have partially slowed down the decline of the Arctic sea ice cover.

As temperatures in the Arctic have warmed at double the pace of the rest of the planet, the expanse of frozen seawater that blankets the Arctic Ocean and neighboring seas has shrunk and thinned over the past three decades. The end-of-summer Arctic sea ice extent has almost halved since the early 1980s. A recent NASA study found that since 1958, the Arctic sea ice cover has lost on average around two-thirds of its thickness and now 70 percent of the sea ice cap is made of seasonal ice, or ice that forms and melts within a single year.

A lone Arctic sea ice floe, observed during the Beaufort Gyre Exploration Project in October 2014. (NASA/Alek Petty)

A lone Arctic sea ice floe, observed during the Beaufort Gyre Exploration Project in October 2014. (NASA/Alek Petty)

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NASA Study May Improve Future River-Observing Satellites

 

Written by Maria-José Viñas
NASA’s Earth Science News Team

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – River floods are one of the most common and devastating of Earth’s natural disasters. In the past decade, deluges from rivers have killed thousands of people every year around the world and caused losses on the order of tens of billions of U.S. dollars annually. Climate change, which is projected to increase precipitation in certain areas of the planet, might make river floods in these places more frequent and severe in the coming decades.

Now, a new study led by researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, analyzes what it would take for river-observing satellites to become an even more useful tool to mitigate flood damage and improve reservoir management globally in near real-time.

Artist's illustration of NASA's planned Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite over the Amazon basin. The colors depict estimated minimum times for flood waves to travel downstream and reach the ocean, data that can inform requirements of satellites like SWOT that can detect floods. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Artist’s illustration of NASA’s planned Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite over the Amazon basin. The colors depict estimated minimum times for flood waves to travel downstream and reach the ocean, data that can inform requirements of satellites like SWOT that can detect floods. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA reports Arctic Winter Sea Ice Extent second lowest on record

 

Written by Maria-José Viñas
​NASA’s Earth Science News Team

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Sea ice in the Arctic grew to its annual maximum extent last week, and joined 2015, 2016 and 2017 as the four lowest maximum extents on record, according to scientists at the NASA-supported National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) and NASA.

On March 17th, the Arctic sea ice cover peaked at 5.59 million square miles (14.48 million square kilometers), making it the second lowest maximum on record, at about 23,200 square miles (60,000 square kilometers) larger than the record low maximum reached on March 7th, 2017.

On March 17th, the Arctic sea ice cover peaked at 5.59 million square miles (14.48 million square kilometers), making it the second lowest maximum on record. (NASA/ Nathan Kurtz)

On March 17th, the Arctic sea ice cover peaked at 5.59 million square miles (14.48 million square kilometers), making it the second lowest maximum on record. (NASA/ Nathan Kurtz)

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NASA reports 2015 Warm Cyclone thinned Arctic Sea Ice

 

Written by Maria-José Viñas
NASA’s Earth Science News Team

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – A large cyclone that crossed the Arctic in December 2015 brought so much heat and humidity to this otherwise frigid and dry environment that it thinned and shrunk the sea ice cover during a time of the year when the ice should have been growing thicker and stronger, a NASA study found.

The cyclone formed on December 28th, 2015, in the middle of the North Atlantic, and traveled to the United Kingdom and Iceland before entering the Arctic on December 30th, lingering in the area for several days.

This image shows the winds and warm mass of air associated with a large cyclone that swept the Arctic in late December 2015-early January 2016, thinning and shrinking the sea ice cover. (NASA Goddard's Scientific Visualization Studio/Alex Kekesi, data visualizer)

This image shows the winds and warm mass of air associated with a large cyclone that swept the Arctic in late December 2015-early January 2016, thinning and shrinking the sea ice cover. (NASA Goddard’s Scientific Visualization Studio/Alex Kekesi, data visualizer)

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NASA researchers observe Arctic losing it’s older Sea Ice

 

Written by Maria-José Viñas
NASA’s Earth Science News Team

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Arctic sea ice, the vast sheath of frozen seawater floating on the Arctic Ocean and its neighboring seas, has been hit with a double whammy over the past decades: as its extent shrunk, the oldest and thickest ice has either thinned or melted away, leaving the sea ice cap more vulnerable to the warming ocean and atmosphere.

“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 in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Compare the extension of older sea ice in the Arctic in September 1984 and September 2016. The older ice is thicker and more resistant to melt than new ice, so it protects the sea ice cap during warm summers. In September 1984, there were 1.86 million square kilometers of old ice (5 years or older) left throughout the Arctic sea ice cap during its yearly minimum extent; in September 2016, there were only 110,000 square kilometers of older sea ice left. (NASA'S Scientific Visualization Studio)

Compare the extension of older sea ice in the Arctic in September 1984 and September 2016. The older ice is thicker and more resistant to melt than new ice, so it protects the sea ice cap during warm summers. In September 1984, there were 1.86 million square kilometers of old ice (5 years or older) left throughout the Arctic sea ice cap during its yearly minimum extent; in September 2016, there were only 110,000 square kilometers of older sea ice left. (NASA’S Scientific Visualization Studio)

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NASA’s airborne survey of polar ice “Operation IceBridge” finishes Spring Campaign in the Arctic

 

Written by Maria-Jose Viñas
NASA’s Earth Science News Team

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Operation IceBridge, NASA’s airborne survey of polar ice, ended its eighth spring Arctic campaign on May 21st. During their five weeks of operations, mission scientists carried out six research flights over sea ice and ten over land ice.

“We collected data over key portions of the Greenland Ice Sheet, like the fast-changing Zachariae Isstrom Glacier, and we got the broad geographic coverage of Arctic sea ice we needed,” said Nathan Kurtz, IceBridge’s project scientist and a sea ice researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Fast-changing Zachariae Isstrom Glacier. (NASA/Maria-José Viñas)

Fast-changing Zachariae Isstrom Glacier. (NASA/Maria-José Viñas)

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NASA researches Surface Melting in Greenland that’s contributing to Sea Level Rise

 

Written by Maria-José Viñas
NASA’s Earth Science News Team

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – On Greenland’s ice sheet, a vast icy landscape crisscrossed by turquoise rivers and dotted with meltwater lakes, a small cluster of orange camping tents popped up in late July. The camp, home for a week to a team of researchers, sat by a large, fast-flowing river.

Just half a mile (a kilometer) downstream, the river dropped into a seemingly bottomless moulin, or sinkhole in the ice. The low rumble of the waters, the shouted instructions from scientists taking measurements, and the chop of the blades of a helicopter delivering personnel and gear were all that was heard in the frozen landscape.

Laurence Smith (University of California, Los Angeles) deploys an autonomous drift boat equipped with several sensors in a meltwater river on the Greenland ice sheet. (NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Jefferson Beck)

Laurence Smith (University of California, Los Angeles) deploys an autonomous drift boat equipped with several sensors in a meltwater river on the Greenland ice sheet. (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Jefferson Beck)

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NASA researchers and National Snow and Ice Data Center reports Melting Season in Arctic lasting longer

 

Written by Maria-José Viñas
NASA’s Earth Science News Team

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – The length of the melt season for Arctic sea ice is growing by several days each decade, and an earlier start to the melt season is allowing the Arctic Ocean to absorb enough additional solar radiation in some places to melt as much as four feet of the Arctic ice cap’s thickness, according to a new study by National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) and NASA researchers.

Arctic sea ice has been in sharp decline during the last four decades. The sea ice cover is shrinking and thinning, making scientists think an ice-free Arctic Ocean during the summer might be reached this century. The seven lowest September sea ice extents in the satellite record have all occurred in the past seven years.

An image mosaic of sea ice in the Canadian Basin, taken by Operation IceBridge's Digital Mapping System on Mar. 28th, 2014. (Digital Mapping System/NASA Ames)

An image mosaic of sea ice in the Canadian Basin, taken by Operation IceBridge’s Digital Mapping System on Mar. 28th, 2014. (Digital Mapping System/NASA Ames)

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