The Long Thaw

  • Released Tuesday, March 6, 2012
  • Updated Thursday, December 3, 2015 at 12:35PM
  • ID: 10919

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The vast frozen cap that covers the Arctic Ocean crackles with the energy of a continent-sized slab of ice in constant motion.

This video details the three-decade decline of the Arctic's thick, older sea ice, with seasonal ice not shown and gray circles marking data gaps.

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Microwave sensors on satellites can detect ice thickness. Satellites saw a downward spike in older, thicker sea ice in 1991.

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Again about a decade later, the Arctic's oldest, thickest sea ice shriveled to a new record minimum.

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Scientists were stunned in 2008, when the area of older, thicker sea ice area reduced to 55 percent of its average since the late 1970s.

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The area covered by older and thicker sea ice in the Arctic diminished by almost 50 percent between 1980 and 2012.


Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

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