Science Graphic of the Week: Three Ways to Visualize Our Melting Northern Ice Cap

September 25, 2014 10:37 AM

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The Arctic ice cap is shrinking by about 13 percent every decade. These three visualizations, by NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio, illustrate this steadily unfolding situation, which has nightmarish implications, from accelerating global warming to diluting the oceans until they are inhospitable to marine life. Mid-September marks the annual minimum for Arctic sea ice, and although this year’s minimum wasn’t as dramatic as in years past (like 2012, when the ice cap shriveled to its smallest size in recorded history), it continues the trend towards an ice-free north.

The gallery of strange figures you see above represents the outlines of Arctic sea ice extent month by month from 1979 to the present.

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