WUWT commenter Ray tips us to a new video from NASA “The Tour of the Cryosphere 2009”. With all the interest in sea ice right now, it seems like a good item to review.
I found one thing about it really interesting though, the zoom in of the Larsen B ice shelf saying: “After twelve thousand years, the Larsen B ice shelf collapsed in just five weeks.”. While they didn’t say directly that it was attributable to “global warming”, many others have said so. Watch how that melt pool continues through the animation of sea ice growth as refreeze occurs. That’s a hint. There’s quite a number of volcanic peaks in the area, as listed here. Here’s a ground pix from the scene. and some BAS research that found some unexpected things. More on that another time.
From NASA News
Back in 2002, NASA created a film using satellite data that took viewers on a tour of Earth’s frozen regions. This year, NASA visualizers are taking viewers on a return trip to see how things have changed over the years.
“The Tour of the Cryosphere 2009” combines satellite imagery and state-of-the-art computer animation software to create a fact-filled and visually stunning tour that shows viewers the icy reaches of Antarctica, the glacier-pocked regions along the Andes Mountains, the winter snows of the American West, the drifting expanse of polar sea ice, and the shrinking Jakobshavn glacier in Greenland.
However, viewers who saw the original will notice differences in the new version, also created by the Scientific Visualization Studio (SVS) at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. The new “Tour of the Cryosphere” video can be seen and downloaded from the Scientific Visualization Studio’s Web site.
“What we did was incorporate more recent data and kept all scenes from the original that were dramatic and interesting,” said film director and editor Horace Mitchell, who began updating the animation seven months ago, with help from visualizers Alex Kekesi and Cindy Starr. “The biggest change is that the entire film is in high definition.”
Another significant difference is evident as soon as the 5-minute animation opens. At the request of Earth scientists, who thought the film could be improved by a more realistic rendering of Antarctica, the team replaced the original imagery provided by Canada’s RADARSAT with the Landsat Image Mosaic of Antarctica (LIMA). Created from more than 1,000 high-resolution Landsat 7 scenes, the LIMA dataset seamlessly shows the entire continent in unprecedented and realistic detail.
Watch the YouTube Video:
HiDef › View video (30 Mb mov)
As the updated film takes viewers northward from Antarctica, the film treats viewers to the precise locations of glaciers scattered along the Andes Mountains in South America. The locations literally pop as the film continues its grand tour toward the planet’s northern climes.
After a quick tour of snowfall in the American West and its impact on vegetation in 2002 and 2003, the film moves across Canada and Alaska to show more recent satellite data of annual snow and ice overlaying these regions. From there, viewers travel to Earth’s North Pole where they see the monthly average concentration of Arctic sea ice in 2009.
To help drive home the point that minimum sea ice levels have declined dramatically since 1979, the SVS team inserted a chart that tracks the levels of minimum ice cover, which typically occurs in September.
The animation then moves from Arctic sea ice to Greenland. More recent data now are used to show changes in the Jakobshavn glacier, which receded only slightly from 1942 to 2001. Beginning in 2002, the rate of ice loss jumped dramatically. The film shows the continued rates of recession over the past four years.
The animation shows the world in a single “shot” — uninterrupted by cuts or scene changes, a technique that conveys the interconnectedness of the cryosphere and the reason scientists gather satellite data to monitor changes in the first place.
The film gives anyone who watches it a wealth of data collected from satellite observations, showing in detail the impact that recent changes are making on the planet, he said.
“We’re trying to tell NASA’s story with Hollywood’s tools,” Mitchell said.
Here is the transcript from NASA:
“A Tour of the Cryosphere 2009” Transcript
Though cold and often remote, the icy reaches of the Arctic, Antarctic, and other frozen
places affect the lives of everyone on Earth.
We start our tour in Antarctica. Where they meet the sea, mountains of ice crack and
crumble. The resulting icebergs can float for years. Ice shelves surround half the
continent. They slow the relentless march of ice streams and glaciers like dams hold
back rivers. But the region is changing. As temperatures increase, we see a growing
number of melt ponds. As this heavy melt water forces its way into cracks, ice shelves
weaken and can ultimately collapse. After twelve thousand years, the Larsen B ice
shelf collapsed in just five weeks.
Offshore, sea ice forms when the surface of the ocean freezes, pushing salt out of the
ice. The cold salty surface water starts to sink, pumping deeper water out of the way,
powering global ocean circulation. These currents influence climate worldwide.
Most ice exists in the cold polar regions, but we see glaciers like these in the Andes all
over the world. Most are shrinking.
Here in North America, millions of people experience the cryosphere every year.
Eastward moving storms deposit snow like thick paint brushes. Mountain snow packs
store water. Snow melt provides three-quarters of the water resources used in the
American west. Substantial winter snows produced a green Colorado in 2003, but
dryer conditions the previous year limited vegetation growth and increased the risk of
In the Rocky Mountains, there are patches of frozen ground called permafrost that
never thaw. These regions are unusual in the mid-latitudes. But farther north,
permafrost is more widespread and continuous, covering nearly a fifth of the land
surface in the Northern Hemisphere.
Sea ice varies from season to season and from year to year. Data show that Arctic sea
ice has shrunk dramatically in the last few decades. The effects could be profound.
As polar ice decreases, more open water could promote greater heating. More heating
could lead to faster melting, reinforcing the cycle. If this trend continues, the Arctic
Ocean could be ice-free in the summer by the end of the century.
These changes in ice cover are not limited to oceans. Greenland’s ice sheet contains
nearly ten percent of the Earth’s glacial ice. Glaciers in western Greenland produce
most of the icebergs in the North Atlantic. After decades of stability, Greenland’s
Jakobshavn ice stream, one of the fastest flowing glaciers in the world, has changed
dramatically. The ice has thinned, and the front retreated significantly. Between 1997
and 2003, the glacier’s flow rate nearly doubled to five feet an hour.
These are just some of the cryospheric processes that NASA satellites observe from
space. Continued observation provides a critical global perspective, as our home
planet continues to change – day to day, year to year, and further into the future.