Declassified Ice Loss Images

by Nancy Atkinson on July 27, 2009

Want to stay on top of all the space news? Follow @universetoday on Twitter

Ice loss in Barrow Alaska from 2006 to 2007. Credit: US Geological Survey

Ice loss in Barrow Alaska from 2006 to 2007. Credit: US Geological Survey


Last week the US government released more than a thousand intelligence images of Arctic ice that have been used to help scientists study the impact of climate change. The images were taken by spy satellites, as part of the Medea program, which lets scientists request spy pictures from environmentally sensitive locations around the world. After they were taken, the Bush Administration released the photographs to the scientists but deemed them “unsuitable for public release.” Earlier this month, the National Academy of Sciences recommended the Obama Administration declassify the photos, which they did within a few hours of the recommendation.

Various blogs are saying these dramatic images are faked, but since they are available through the US Geological Survey , that hardly seems likely. Over 700 images show changes of sea ice in various recent years from six sites around the Arctic Ocean, with an additional 500 images of 22 sites in the United States.

Ice loss in the Beaufort Sea. Credit: USGS

Ice loss in the Beaufort Sea. Credit: USGS

Scientists request ice pictures to be taken by intelligence satellites because the resolution is much greater, in some cases, than other available satellite images. According to Reuters, the newly declassified Arctic images have a resolution of about 1 yard (1 meter), a vast improvement on previously available pictures of sea ice which have a resolution between 15 and 30 meters.

Ice loss at the Bering Glacier. Credit: USGS

Ice loss at the Bering Glacier. Credit: USGS

Sources: Reuters, USGS, TrueSlant

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

ElroyJetson July 29, 2009 at 1:41 PM

Yeah, the atmospheric pressure is much lower, but it’s still 95% CO2, whereas on Earth CO2 is ~0.03% .

Confirm the following here.

On Mars:
Average Temp. -55C
Minimum -133C
Maximum +27C

So I was a bit off, a whole 2C, on max. temp. Summertime equatorial low is pretty accurate like that as well, although that’s not listed on the above linked ESA site.

Ignorant, uninformed or lying…me? LOL. Good one.

Many scientists, especially those directly involved in climate studies, are now questioning the extent to which climate is affected by human activity, which actually appears to be negligible.
Solar output, PDO and ENSO are primary factors in climate, among other climate cycles not related at all to CO2.

ElroyJetson July 29, 2009 at 1:43 PM
ElroyJetson July 29, 2009 at 2:29 PM

Global Warming predicts a severe increase in storm intensity, especially tropical cyclones. Just more alarmism.

Here’s the reality:
Northern Hemisphere ACE (Accumulated Cyclone Energy) is the lowest it’s been in over 30 years while Global ACE is near to 50 year lows.
Beyond that, historically as well as recently, there is no distinct trend showing a steady increase in ACE. If anything there is a slight decrease in the trend.

http://www.coaps.fsu.edu/~maue/tropical/

Yet we will continue to hear how terribly strong and horrible hurricanes and cyclones will become due to global warming.

If solar activity continues to remain flatlined ( as I believe it will), prepare for some very chilly times ahead. A scientist at NASA said that another Dalton Minimum is not out of the question. The Earth was pretty freakin’ chilly during the Dalton Minimum.

OK, not trying to sound alarmist in the other extreme, but the fact is that cold times on Earth have historically been really bad times for civilization. On the other hand, civilization expanded and thrived during warmer periods. So which extreme should be be worried about? I say that past history speaks for itself.

ElroyJetson July 29, 2009 at 2:33 PM

darn typo’s
…should WE be worried about?
not be be worried…

Is there an editor up in this here hizzaus?

ElroyJetson July 29, 2009 at 3:03 PM

I just noticed.
Comparing the two photos at the top of the article, there appears to be snow on the ground in ’07, while off-shore is clear of ice. If that is actually true, then that would tend to support the fact that ocean currents and wind are primary factors in Arctic sea ice extent, with temperature having a relatively minor effect.

Trippy July 29, 2009 at 6:27 PM

Yeah, the atmospheric pressure is much lower, but it’s still 95% CO2, whereas on Earth CO2 is ~0.03% .

Once again, when considering these things it’s the partial pressure that’s important, even though the martian atmospher may be 95% CO2 the partial pressure of CO2 on Mars, IIRC is lower than it is here on earth, and as I have said, it’s the partial pressure that’s important.

Confirm the following here.

On Mars:
Average Temp. -55C
Minimum -133C
Maximum +27C

So I was a bit off, a whole 2C, on max. temp. Summertime equatorial low is pretty accurate like that as well, although that’s not listed on the above linked ESA site.
So I used a different source that had different information. Oops.

NASA, Mars Facts and Figures
solarsystem.jpl.nasa.gov/planets/profile.cfm?Object=Mars&Display=Facts&System=Metric

Minimum/Maximum Surface Temperature
Metric: -87 to -5 °C
English: -125 to 23 °F
Scientific Notation: 186 to 268 K

Ignorant, uninformed or lying…me? LOL. Good one.

You get what you give.

Many scientists, especially those directly involved in climate studies, are now questioning the extent to which climate is affected by human activity, which actually appears to be negligible.
Solar output, PDO and ENSO are primary factors in climate, among other climate cycles not related at all to CO2.

I haven’t said it here in this thread, but I have said it elsewhere that the most accurate models take all of these things into account.

187chronic July 30, 2009 at 4:34 AM

I agree with danny, photos look shopped.. or winter/ summer type. Population control is just one thing on the list debt is another, odd how we go in circles isn’t it? Point n ill go in that direction… seems like more n more people believe ignorance is bliss, i dont understand… don’t listen to the words listen to the theory..

187chronic July 30, 2009 at 4:41 AM

then agian its a good balance between co2 and oxygen, too much co2 n we over heat. not enough n we freeze its all about balance.. change is happening wether its “global warming” or just a natural change in the earth it can’t hurt to understand how to balance it out

ND July 30, 2009 at 7:12 AM

ElroyJetson,

What scientific fields are these 30K scientists in? You didn’t say 30K climatologists, I assume the vast majority of them are not studying the climate.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: