Title: A Satellite-Derived 42-Year Arctic and Antarctic Sea Ice Record: Development and Results

Abstract: Back in the late 1970s, at a time when sea ice was largely unknown, satellite instruments were still relatively new, and computers were quite primitive compared to what they have become, a small group of scientists at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center unobtrusively began a satellite record of sea ice for both polar regions. That record has now grown to a 42-year record that has provided key information about ongoing climate change. By the late 1990s, clear evidence had emerged that the sea ice coverage of the Arctic was decreasing, and that trend has not only continued but has intensified in the subsequent two decades. The Arctic sea ice decreases are solidly in line with predictions of global warming, sea ice decreases, and feedbacks creating amplified warming in the Arctic region. Results in the Antarctic have been far more puzzling, as for decades the sea ice coverage of the Antarctic was, overall, increasing rather than decreasing, until reaching a peak in 2014 and subsequently undergoing a decrease far more rapid than what had been seen in the Arctic. The puzzling Antarctic results have led to numerous studies seeking to unravel the causes, although not yet leading to consensus explanations.

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Speaker Information
Name: 
Claire Parkinson
Title: 
Senior Scientist
Department: 
Climate Change
Affiliation: 
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Host: 
Eric Rignot
Date and Time: 
Wednesday, May 5, 2021 - 1:00pm