Arctic Ocean ice is disappearing, NASA shows

Satellites of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (POTfor its acronym in English) have captured the behavior of the Arctic Ocean since 1979 and thanks to an animated map it is possible to notice the progressive disappearance of ice in this region of the planet. In 2022, it recorded its 10th lowest level of all time.

In the last four decades, the arctic ocean ice it has presented variations in some particular years, such as in 2012 and 2018 when it presented alarmingly low levels with respect to its normal behavior. This is due to high temperatures in glacial areas.

2022 is the 10th year with the lowest ice level in the Arctic Ocean!

The NASA satellite records show that the last 16 years have presented the minimal ice extents lowest since satellite observations began. 2022 was no exception and tied the 2017 and 2018 levels for the 10th lowest in 44 years of observations.

“This year marks a continuation of the very low sea ice cover since the 1980s (…) That is not something that is random variation or chance. It represents a fundamental change in the ice sheet in response to rising temperatures.”

Walt Meier, a sea ice researcher at the National Snow and Ice Data Center

How has the ice of the Arctic Ocean behaved?

According to the POTthe ice of Arctic Ocean It changes according to the seasons of the year. In winter it expands and grows outwards, while in summer it contracts inwards as it melts. “The older ice eventually moves out into the North Atlantic Oceanwhere it melts”, he specifies.

The ice exits through the Fram Strait, which meant a permanent movement, as well as a constant growth and aging of the frozen water. She also survived long enough in the summer to recover; however, less replacement has been detected in recent years.

Is arctic ice disappearing? This shows NASA

The POT offers tools to show how the system has behaved arctic ocean ice in September from 1979 to 2021, as well as a graph of how many square kilometers of sea ​​ice there annually, making it clear how its extension has decreased in a span of 43 years.

In total, there has been a glacial decrease of 13% every decade. In 1979 an average of 6.9 million square kilometers of ice was recorded, while in 2021 there are 4.72 million km2although this has not been the lowest level, since in 2012 it only realized 3.39 million.

Graph of ice level in the Arctic Ocean | Photo: NASA

“The ice marine of the Arctic reaches its minimum extension every September”, says the POTand also shows a animated map which shows the minimum size of the arctic sea ice measured every year since 1979, based on satellite observations. The 2012 and 2018 extents are the lowest on record by satellite.

“Each year, the sea ice cover that covers the Arctic Ocean and nearby seas thickens and expands during the fall and winter, reaching its maximum annual extent. On March 17, the Arctic sea ice cover peaked at 5.59 million square miles, the second-lowest maximum on record.



This visualization, created at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center POT in Greenbelt, Maryland, shows fluctuations in Arctic sea ice extent from March through September 2022.

The Map is based on the data acquired by the instrument Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer 2 (AMSR2) in the Japan Aerospace. Exploration Agency’s Global Change Observation Mission 1st-Water “SHIZUKU” (GCOM-W1) satellite.

Why does this phenomenon happen?

In accordance with Claire Parkinsonchief climate scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center POT in Greenbelt, Maryland, the disappearance of the ice in the arctic ocean is caused by the climate change and, in the same sense, it has harmful effects on this phenomenon.

“The ice cover continues in a decreasing trend and this is related to the continuous warming of the Arctic (…) It is a two-way street: warming means that less ice and more ice will melt, but also, with less ice, less incident solar radiation is reflected from the sun, and this contributes to warming,” says Parkinson.

The high temperatures in glacial areas are alarming, because according to the newspaper Los Angeles Timesthe poles of the Land are experiencing abnormal simultaneous extreme heat in 2022, with parts of Antarctica at temperatures 40 degrees Celsius above average and parts of the Arctic up to 30 degrees above normal.

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