Earth 

A Tour of the Cryosphere 2009

The cryosphere consists of those parts of the Earth's surface where water is found in solid form, including areas of snow, sea ice, glaciers, permafrost, ice sheets, and icebergs. In these regions, surface temperatures remain below freezing for a portion of each year. Since ice and snow exist relatively close to their melting point, they frequently change from solid to liquid and back again due to fluctuations in surface temperature. Although direct measurements of the cryosphere can be difficult to obtain due to the remote locations of many of these areas, using satellite observations scientists monitor changes in the global and regional climate by observing how regions of the Earth's cryosphere shrink and expand.

This animation portrays fluctuations in the cryosphere through observations collected from a variety of satellite-based sensors. The animation begins in Antarctica, showing some unique features of the Antarctic landscape found nowhere else on earth. Ice shelves, ice streams, glaciers, and the formation of massive icebergs can be seen clearly in the flyover of the Landsat Image Mosaic of Antarctica. A time series shows the movement of iceberg B15A, an iceberg 295 kilometers in length which broke off of the Ross Ice Shelf in 2000. Moving farther along the coastline, a time series of the Larsen ice shelf shows the collapse of over 3,200 square kilometers ice since January 2002. As we depart from the Antarctic, we see the seasonal change of sea ice and how it nearly doubles the apparent area of the continent during the winter.

From Antarctica, the animation travels over South America showing glacier locations on this mostly tropical continent. We then move further north to observe daily changes in snow cover over the North American continent. The clouds show winter storms moving across the United States and Canada, leaving trails of snow cover behind. In a close-up view of the western US, we compare the difference in land cover between two years: 2003 when the region received a normal amount of snow and 2002 when little snow was accumulated. The difference in the surrounding vegetation due to the lack of spring melt water from the mountain snow pack is evident.

As the animation moves from the western US to the Arctic region, the areas affected by permafrost are visible. As time marches forward from March to September, the daily snow and sea ice recede and reveal the vast areas of permafrost surrounding the Arctic Ocean.

The animation shows a one-year cycle of Arctic sea ice followed by the mean September minimum sea ice for each year from 1979 through 2008. The superimposed graph of the area of Arctic sea ice at this minimum clearly shows the dramatic decrease in Artic sea ice over the last few years.

While moving from the Arctic to Greenland, the animation shows the constant motion of the Arctic polar ice using daily measures of sea ice activity. Sea ice flows from the Arctic into Baffin Bay as the seasonal ice expands southward. As we draw close to the Greenland coast, the animation shows the recent changes in the Jakobshavn glacier. Although Jakobshavn receded only slightly from 1964 to 2001, the animation shows significant recession from 2001 through 2009. As the animation pulls out from Jakobshavn, the effect of the increased flow rate of Greenland costal glaciers is shown by the thinning ice shelf regions near the Greenland coast.

This animation shows a wealth of data collected from satellite observations of the cryosphere and the impact that recent cryospheric changes are making on our planet.

For more information on the data sets used in this visualization, visit NASA's EOS DAAC website.

Note: This animation is an update of the animation 'A Short Tour of the Cryosphere', which is itself an abridged version of the animation 'A Tour of the Cryosphere'. The popularity of the earlier animations and their continuing relevance prompted us to update the datasets in parts of the animation and to remake it in high definition. In certain cases, our experiences in using the earlier work have led us to tweak the presentation of some of the material to make it clearer. Our thanks to Dr. Robert Bindschadler for suggesting and supporting this remake.


Visualization Credits

Alex Kekesi (GST): Lead Animator
Cindy Starr (GST): Lead Animator
Horace Mitchell (NASA/GSFC): Animator
Lori Perkins (NASA/GSFC): Animator
Ryan Boller (NASA/GSFC): Animator
Greg Shirah (NASA/GSFC): Animator
Tom Bridgman (GST): Animator
Marte Newcombe (GST): Animator
Helen-Nicole Kostis (UMBC): Animator
Eric Sokolowsky (GST): Animator
Randall Jones (GST): Animator
Horace Mitchell (NASA/GSFC): Video Editor
Michael Starobin (HTSI): Narrator
Waleed Abdalati (NASA/GSFC): Scientist
Bob Bindschadler (NASA/GSFC): Scientist
Dorothy Hall (NASA/GSFC): Scientist
Walt Meier (NSIDC): Scientist
Richard Armstrong (University of Colorado): Scientist
Ronald Weaver (University of Colorado): Scientist
Mary Jo Brodzik (University of Colorado): Scientist
James W. Williams (GST): Project Support
Stuart A. Snodgrass (GST): Project Support
Jarrett Cohen (GST): Writer
Michael Starobin (HTSI): Writer
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio The Blue Marble Next Generation data is courtesy of Reto Stockli (NASA/GSFC) and NASA's Earth Observatory. Historic calving front locations courtesy of Anker Weidick and Ole Bennike, Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland

Short URL to share this page:
http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/goto?3619

Missions:
Galileo
Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM)
Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite (ICEsat)
Landsat
QuikSCAT
Shuttle Radar Topography Mission - SRTM
Terra

Data Used:
Aqua/AMSR-E/Level 3 12.5 km Sea Ice Concentration 3/22/2007-6/23/2009
World Glacier Inventory
Terra and Aqua/MODIS/Blue Marble: Next Generation 1/1/2004 - 12/31/2004
Terra/ASTER/Band Combination 3, 2, 1 8/8/2006
Gridded Population of the World (Version 3 Beta)
GTOPO30 Topography and Bathymetry
Circum-Arctic Map of Permafrost and Ground-Ice Conditions
NSIDC SSMI-derived September Minimum Sea Ice Concentration 1979-2008
Terra/MISR 9/16/2000, 11/28/2000, 12/12/2000, 1/1/2001, 1/22/2001, 2/25/2001, 9/8/2001, 10/10/2001, 10/26/2001, 11/4/2001, 11/9/2001, 11/11/2001, 11/12/2001
QuikSCAT/SeaWinds 3/1/2004-2/10/2004
Terra and Aqua/MODIS/Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) 5/19/2002, 2/15/2003-5/19/2003
Radarsat Antarctic Mapping Project (RAMP) Digital Elevation Model (DEM)
Terra/MODIS/Snow Cover Daily L3 Global 0.05Deg CMG (MOD10C1) 5/19/2002, 12/21/2002-5/19/2003,3/22/2007-9/10/2007,1/10/2009-4/6/2009
SRTM/SIR-C/DEM
Landsat/TM/Calving Front Line 7/7/2001, 9/3/2002, 8/23/2003, 10/3/2004, 7/29/2009
GOES-8/Imager 12/22/2002-1/2/2003
Terra and Aqua/MODIS/Band Combination 1, 4, 3 1/31/2002, 2/17/2002, 2/23/2002, 3/5/2002, 3/7/2002, 12/18/2002, 11/9/2004, 11/15/2004, 11/19/2004, 11/21/2004, 11/26/2004, 12/2/2004, 12/4/2004, 12/7/2004, 12/10/2004, 12/13/2004, 12/20/2004, 12/23/2004, 1/2/2005, 1/11/2005, 1/12/2005, 1/14/2005, 1/17/2005, 1/18/2005, 1/21/2005, 1/26/2005, 1/29/2005, 1/30/2005, 3/2/2009, 7/10/2009
Landsat-7/ETM+/Landsat Image Mosaic of Antarctica 1999-2003
RADARSAT-1/SAR/Derived Velocities 2000
ICESat/GLAS/L1B Global Elevation Data (GLA06) 2003-2006
Terra/ASTER/Calving Front Lines 7/2/2005, 8/8/2006

This item is part of these series:
Narrated Movies
Goddard Shorts

Keywords:
DLESE >> Cryology
SVS >> HDTV
SVS >> Sea Ice
SVS >> Snow
SVS >> Snow and Ice
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Cryosphere >> Frozen Ground >> Permafrost
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Cryosphere >> Glaciers/Ice Sheets >> Glacier Motion/Ice Sheet Motion
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Cryosphere >> Glaciers/Ice Sheets >> Glacier Thickness/Ice Sheet Thickness
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Cryosphere >> Glaciers/Ice Sheets >> Glacier Topography/Ice Sheet Topography
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Cryosphere >> Glaciers/Ice Sheets >> Glaciers
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Cryosphere >> Glaciers/Ice Sheets >> Ice Sheets
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Cryosphere >> Sea Ice >> Ice Growth/Melt
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Cryosphere >> Sea Ice >> Sea Ice Concentration
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Cryosphere >> Sea Ice >> Sea Ice Motion
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Cryosphere >> Snow/Ice >> Ice Extent
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Cryosphere >> Snow/Ice >> Ice Growth/Melt
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Cryosphere >> Snow/Ice >> Ice Motion
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Cryosphere >> Snow/Ice >> Ice Velocity
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Cryosphere >> Snow/Ice >> Permafrost
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Cryosphere >> Snow/Ice >> Snow Cover
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Hydrosphere >> Glaciers/Ice Sheets >> Glacier Motion/Ice Sheet Motion
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Hydrosphere >> Glaciers/Ice Sheets >> Glacier Topography/Ice Sheet Topography
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Hydrosphere >> Glaciers/Ice Sheets >> Glaciers
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Hydrosphere >> Glaciers/Ice Sheets >> Ice Sheets
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Hydrosphere >> Snow/Ice >> Ice Growth/Melt
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Hydrosphere >> Snow/Ice >> Ice Motion
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Hydrosphere >> Snow/Ice >> Ice Velocity
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Hydrosphere >> Snow/Ice >> Permafrost
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Hydrosphere >> Snow/Ice >> Snow Cover
SVS >> Hyperwall
SVS >> Edited Feature
SVS >> GOES
SVS >> Copenhagen
DLESE >> Narrated
SVS >> Voice Over Talent
NASA Science >> Earth

GCMD keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation: Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version 8.0.0.0.0