Cryosat satellite: Arctic ice is thinning

By on February 22, 2013
ICESat, CryoSat and PIOMAS sea ice thickness measurements in the Arctic. Figure (a) shows the 2003–07 average ICESat ice thickness for October/November and (b) the 2004–08 average for February/March. Figures (c) to (f) are measurements based on CryoSat data, for October/November 2010 (c), February/March 2011 (d), October/November 2011 (e) and February/March 2012 (f). The final two figures are based on PIOMAS measurements for October/November 2011 (g) and February/March 2012 (h).

ICESat, CryoSat and PIOMAS sea ice thickness measurements in the Arctic. Figure (a) shows the 2003–07 average ICESat ice thickness for October/November and (b) the 2004–08 average for February/March. Figures (c) to (f) are measurements based on CryoSat data, for October/November 2010 (c), February/March 2011 (d), October/November 2011 (e) and February/March 2012 (f). The final two figures are based on PIOMAS measurements for October/November 2011 (g) and February/March 2012 (h).

Data from the European Space Agency’s Cryosat satellite confirm that Arctic ice has decreased markedly between 2003 and 2012, according to a release. The greatest decline in ice has occurred in summer months, with the last six summers seeing the thinnest ice in 30 years.

The Cryosat satellite has a high-resolution altimeter which allows it to give a more accurate picture of ice loss by measuring ice thickness instead of just surface area. Cryosat has documented a 36 percent decrease in Arctic ice during autumn months and a 9 percent decrease in winter time.

The findings were confirmed with ground and airborne measurements taken in the region and by comparing data to those collected by NASA’s Operation IceBridge, a mission that observes Earth’s polar ice.

Image: ICESat, CryoSat and PIOMAS sea ice thickness measurements in the Arctic. Figure (a) shows the 2003–07 average ICESat ice thickness for October/November and (b) the 2004–08 average for February/March. Figures (c) to (f) are measurements based on CryoSat data, for October/November 2010 (c), February/March 2011 (d), October/November 2011 (e) and February/March 2012 (f). The final two figures are based on PIOMAS measurements for October/November 2011 (g) and February/March 2012 (h).

About Daniel Kelly

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.