"Cool" animation shows arctic ice loss
The northern summer of 2007 saw more open water around the North Pole than ever before. The record loss of sea ice is a worry not just to polar bears and seals, but also to those concerned about global warming. The less ice, the less sunlight reflected back into space, and that means more solar energy absorbed by the Arctic Ocean. And that just reinforces the warming of the northern ocean, which has an impact globally - like switching off the planet's icebox.
Scientists have been watching the annual melt as an indicator of global climate change. Although the melting offers the prospect of commercial shipping in summer through the fabled Northwest Passage, the loss of "permanent" year-round sea ice is worrisome to many.
And after last year's record melt, scientists were eager to see whether 2008 would exceed that mark. It didn't, although it came close. Here's more from the National Snow and Ice Data Center. And the pace of the melt during August did set a new record.
Anyway, scientists at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center's Scientific Visualization Studio have assembled an animation of the 2008 melting season as recorded by polar satellites. It's fascinating. Have a look.
Here's more from Goddard.