New Arctic sea ice results are about to be released later this morning. Can you give us a preview of what scientists are seeing and what you're going to be talking about? Sure. The first thing you've got to understand is we're talking about the Earth's northern polar ice cap. And what that is, is ice floating on the Arctic Ocean. And we're really interested in that ice right now because in recent years, it's been receding, and it's receding a lot. And there's two things going on. In summer that ice always melts back and then in the winter it regrows. We try to monitor what happens in the summer and also the winter. The results that we're releasing today is how much that ice grew back this winter and what we're finding is this: over the last six years it's been growing back less each year, and right now it's missing a Texas-sized area of ice. The other thing though, and these are some other exciting results, is that we've finally developed the techniques to measure the thickness of that ice. And what we're finding is that the ice is thinner now than it's ever been. And this is profoundly important because in the summer months, thinner ice melts and is also blown out by wind more easily than thicker ice. And so those two results are what we're going to be releasing today. That's really interesting, but why is Arctic sea ice so important to us? Arctic sea ice is important for a bunch of reasons. The first thing: the Arctic sea ice is the defining characteristic of the Arctic ecosystems. All of the animals that live in that part of the world, all the lifeforms depend on that ice, so if you take it away, you completely change all those animals, and their home, the way that they forage for food -- all of those things. But it's also important for us on the planet because it functions like a giant air conditioner. The Arctic sea ice when it grows out is essentially a giant mirror that is reflecting sunlight back into space. As that ice melts and goes away, it gets replaced by sea water which is darker. And you might think of it like your black tar driveway. When the sun hits that driveway, it heats it up. Well when the sun hits that dark ocean, it also heats that up and it helps heat the planet up overall, and it's also a feedback to melt back more ice. The third thing though -- the Arctic is important because right now when we have ice over it it limits the way people can drive ships across it in the summer months. Well, if you take that ice away, there's new trade routes that can be explored. It also changes the possibility for exploration for oil and other resources, and the whole geopolitical landscape changes, you know right now this range of countries making claims to parts of the Arctic, making claims to the resources so it's going to be an important thing for the U.S. to develop policy in that area. So, what kind of changes do you expect to see at the poles in the future and what are scientists doing to better understand them? Good question. Well, first thing is that we expect to see more warming at the poles and we expect to see more of the ice melt and also the frozen ground melt. And to try to understand what that means for us, we have scientists doing basically three things. First one is, we have satellites orbiting the earth monitoring the ice -- how it moves and also how thick it is. And we need to understand that these ice sheets at the North and South poles, they're tremendous. They're on the order of three and four times the size of the continental United States. So you need satellites to characterize them. But some of the processes that happen are local, for example, how fast does a glacier move? We have scientists out on the ground to sit down and monitor that -- also to monitor what's happening in the air, how much snow is falling. What are the changes in the atmospheric composition in that part of the world -- how fast are the winds moving? All that data then gets taken together and put into computer models to try to predict what those changes are going to be, and not only what we should be doing about them, but also how are we going to have to respond to them when they do come? So, what is the International Polar Year and why are the poles so important to us? The International Polar Year ran from 2007-2009, and what it was, was all of the scientists in the world realized that, hey, you know what? The Earth's polar regions are profoundly important to global climate. I mean they're one of the main parts of it. And we know little about them. And so what we need to do, is we need to study those areas. It's all linked together. It actually turns out that one of the reasons we're losing so much ice in the Arctic probably has to do with winds. And also, this is really surprising result -- the ice on the land that's in Greenland and Antarctica, the rate at which that flows into the ocean is directly proportional to the temperature of the ocean. Some physics there that we don't understand how those two are links. And so during the IPY we also focused on international collaboration because the poles are so big and so remote, countries have to band together to really study them. And the last thing was, one of the real goals too was to stimulate the next generation of scientists and engineers. And we had a whole raft of educational programs to try to get young people engaged in polar science. Well, where can we go to learn more about the earth's poles? The best place to start is www.nasa.gov/ipy and there you can look at everything from education materials to the latest scientific results.