A summer cyclone at the top of the world tore through thinning Arctic sea ice.
An unusually strong storm formed off the coast of Alaska on August 5, 2012, and pushed into the center of the Arctic Ocean. The spiraling cyclone was intense by Arctic summer standards, but it caught NASA scientists' attention for a different reason. As the storm raked over the floating sea ice, it severed an enormous chunk from the primary mass of the ice cap. Once separated the freed ice melted faster. This accelerated rate of ice loss might have contributed to the new record low that Arctic sea ice reached on September 16, 2012. Scientists said that while the storm itself wasn't extraordinary, the long-term weakening of the sea ice makes a storm of this size far more impactful than it would have been several decades ago. The visualization, based on wind and sea ice satellite data, shows how the storm parted the ice in its path.