Earth Snapshot RSS Feed Twitter

Posts tagged Global Warming

Russian Shores and Rapid Melting of Arctic Sea Ice

69.3N 161.2E

June 16th, 2013 Category: Climate Change MODISAqua

Russia – June 15th, 2013

Strong warming in the northern high latitudes is causing Arctic sea ice to rapidly melt. It’s one of several changes in the Arctic region, including increased melting of the Greenland ice sheet and permafrost in northern Russia and Alaska, which pose serious risks for the world as a whole. This image focuses on ice along the northern shores of Russia.

The area and thickness of Arctic sea ice fluctuates from year to year, and is affected by weather patterns, ocean circulation and other natural influences. However, the ice on the surface of the Arctic Ocean has been diminishing for the past 30 years, in both area and thickness. Over the past 10 to 15 years, it has begun to disappear faster. Recently, it has fallen to a record low (the previous record being in September 2007). Since 1980, the ice has roughly halved in area, and the volume of ice has dropped to just a quarter of what it was.

White ice reflects much more sunlight back to space than does ocean water, which absorbs incoming sunlight readily. As the area of sea ice decreases and the area of exposed ocean water increases, more sunlight is absorbed, heating the surface of the water and the atmosphere above it. This strengthens the Arctic region warming trend – average temperatures of the high northern latitudes are rising at double the global average temperature increase.

The Arctic sea ice is declining much more quickly than scientists expected only a decade ago. It is very likely that, with the continued decline in sea ice that has occurred over several decades, we’ve already crossed the point of no return and that we’ll have an ice-free Arctic Ocean during summer at some point in the near future. Scientists now consider this could happen by 2030 or even earlier (click here for more information).

Global Warming and Sea Ice by Northern Canada

69.9N 120.1W

June 13th, 2013 Category: Climate Change MODISTerra

Canada – June 12th, 2013

Bodies of water in the Arctic, in Canada’s Northwest Territories and the province of Nunavut are covered in ice: the Great Bear Lake (below), Amundsen Gulf (upper left) and Queen Maud Gulf (upper right). Most of the sea ice breaks up in July during a normal year, with some areas only breaking up in August. Here, ice can be seen breaking up in Amundsen Gulf, near the left edge.

Ongoing changes in the climate of the Arctic include rising temperatures, loss of sea ice, and melting of the Greenland ice sheet. The Arctic ocean will likely be free of summer sea ice before the year 2100. Because of the amplified response of the Arctic to global warming, it is often seen as a high-sensitivity indicator of climate change.

Global Warming and North Caspian Sea Ice – March 3rd, 2013

46.1N 50.8E

March 3rd, 2013 Category: Climate Change, Image of the day, Lakes

Caspian Sea – February 28th, 2013

Vivid green and blue sediments and algae peek out from below the ice covering the northern part of the Caspian Sea. Higher winter temperatures, possibly related to changes in global climate observed in recent years, have caused thinner ice coverage. Scientists have demonstrated a downward trend in ice coverage since the 1930s. This has implications for endemic wildfire, for example by restricting the traditional reproduction grounds of the Caspian seal in the shallow waters of the northern Caspian (click here for more information).

Icy Surface of Adelaide Island, Antarctica

67.1S 68.1W

January 25th, 2013 Category: Climate Change

Antarctica – January 7th, 2013

Although it may be connected to Antarctica by an ice bridge, the large land mass on the left side of the image is in fact an island: Adelaide Island, also known as  Isla Adelaida and Isla Belgrano. The island is mostly ice-covered, and is 75 miles (121 km) long and 20 miles (32 km) wide. Parts of the island, in particular the Fuchs Ice Piedmont – ice covering a coastal strip of low-lying land backed by mountains extending in a northeast–southwest direction along the entire west coast of the island – are being affected by climate change. Scientists have reported atmospheric warming causing inscreasingly early summer melting on the island, leading the snow-covered surface of the ice piedmont to deteriorate over the years.

Early Summer Melting Affecting Fuchs Ice Piedmont, Adelaide Island, Antarctica – January 7th, 2013

67.1S 68.1W

January 7th, 2013 Category: Climate Change, Glaciers and Ice Caps, Image of the day

Antarctica – January 6th, 2013

Small icebergs can be seen breaking off the coast of Antarctica, near Adelaide Island (upper right quadrant). Adelaide Island, also known as  Isla Adelaida and Isla Belgrano, is a large, mainly ice-covered island, 75 miles (121 km) long and 20 miles (32 km) wide, lying at the north side of Marguerite Bay off the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. The Ginger Islands lie off the southern end.

Located on Adelaide Island is the Fuchs Ice Piedmont, an ice piedmont (ice covering a coastal strip of low-lying land backed by mountains) that is 70 nautical miles (130 km) long, extending in a northeast–southwest direction along the entire west coast of the island. According to Chilean scientists, the snow-covered surface of the glacier has progressively deteriorated over the years, due to increasingly early summer melting. Crevasses appear on the glacier surface progressively earlier in the summer, presumably due to higher snowmelt and perhaps higher ice velocities, in response to regional atmospheric warming.