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Arctic ice on the verge of another all-time low
Date:8/28/2008

cean. Departing from Iceland, the route has taken the ship through the Northwest Passage into the Canadian Basin where geophysical and geological studies will be carried out along profiles into the Makarov Basin to study the tectonic history and submarine geology of the central Arctic Ocean. In addition, oceanographic as well as biological studies will be carried out. Polarstern will circumnavigate the whole Arctic Ocean and exit through the Northeast Passage."

Regarding the use of satellite data for polar research Miller continues, "The polar regions, especially the Arctic, are very sensitive indicators of climate change. The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has shown that these regions are highly vulnerable to rising temperatures and predicted that the Arctic would be virtually ice-free in the summer months by 2070. Other scientists claim it could become ice-free as early as 2040. Latest satellite observations suggest that the Arctic could be mainly ice-free even earlier."

Miller added, "At AWI we place particular emphasis on studying Arctic sea-ice, and along with in-situ studies of sea-ice thickness change satellite data have been used extensively - not only for the regular observation of changes in the Arctic and Antarctic, but also for optimising the operation of Polarstern in regions covered by sea ice."

The Arctic is one of the most inaccessible regions on Earth, so obtaining measurements of sea ice was difficult before the advent of satellites. For more than 20 years, ESA has been providing satellite data for the study of the cryosphere and hence revolutionising our understanding of the polar regions.

Satellite measurements from radar instruments can acquire images through clouds and also at night. This capability is especially important in areas prone to long periods of bad weather and extended darkness conditions frequently encountered in the polar regions.

By making available a comprehensive
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Contact: Mariangela D'Acunto
mariangela.dacunto@esa.int
39-069-418-0856
European Space Agency
Source:Eurekalert  

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