2020 Arctic Sea Ice Minimum at Second Lowest on Record

In the Arctic Ocean, sea ice reached its minimum extent of 1.44 million square miles (3.74 million square kilometers) on Sept. 15 – the second-lowest extent since modern record keeping began. (Credits: NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio)

by Kate Ramsayer
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

GREENBELT, Md. — This year’s Arctic sea ice cover shrank to the second-lowest extent since modern record keeping began in the late 1970s. An analysis of satellite data by NASA and the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at the University of Colorado Boulder shows that the 2020 minimum extent, which was likely reached on Sept. 15, measured 1.44 million square miles (3.74 million square kilometers).

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Warming Temperatures are Driving Arctic Greening

When Arctic tundra greens, undergoing increased plant growth, it can impact wildlife species including reindeer and caribou. (Credits: Logan Berner/Northern Arizona University)

by Kate Ramsayer
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

GREENBELT, Md. — As Arctic summers warm, Earth’s northern landscapes are changing. Using satellite images to track global tundra ecosystems over decades, a new study found the region has become greener, as warmer air and soil temperatures lead to increased plant growth.

“The Arctic tundra is one of the coldest biomes on Earth, and it’s also one of the most rapidly warming,” said Logan Berner, a global change ecologist with Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, who led the recent research. “This Arctic greening we see is really a bellwether of global climatic change – it’s a biome-scale response to rising air temperatures.”

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GRACE, GRACE-FO Satellite Data Track Ice Loss at the Poles

Greenland’s Steenstrup Glacier, with the mid-morning sun glinting off the Denmark Strait in the background. The image was taken during a NASA IceBridge airborne survey of the region in 2016. (Credit: NASA/Operation IceBridge)

Greenland and Antarctica are melting – but how quickly and which areas are most affected? Nearly 20 years of satellite data provide key insights into these questions.


PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — During the exceptionally warm Arctic summer of 2019, Greenland lost 600 billion tons of ice – enough to raise global sea levels by nearly a tenth of an inch (2.2 millimeters) in just two months, a new study shows.

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Canada Announces More Arctic Oil Exploration as Huge Ice Sheet Falls into Sea; U.S. Presidential Race Sinks into Muck

The Associated Press is reporting that a large ice shelf almost the size of Manhattan plunged into the Arctic Ocean last month in yet another sign of warming global temperatures. The 19-square-mile Markham Ice Shelf is now adrift off Canada’s northern coast. Over the summer, the Arctic lost 82-square miles of ice cover, an area three times the size of Manhattan.

“The loss of these ice shelves means that rare ecosystems that depend on them are on the brink of extinction, said Warwick Vincent, director of Laval University’s Centre for Northern Studies and a researcher in the program ArcticNet.

“‘The Markham Ice Shelf had half the biomass for the entire Canadian Arctic Ice Shelf ecosystem as a habitat for cold, tolerant microbial life; algae that sit on top of the ice shelf and photosynthesis like plants would. Now that it’s disappeared, we’re looking at ecosystems on the verge of distinction,’ said Muller.”

Yikes! This can’t be good. Or can it?

It is, if you are Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

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