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A Tour of the Cryosphere
Entry ID: SVS_CRYOSPHERE
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Summary
Abstract: The cryosphere consists of those parts of the Earth's surface where water is found in solid form, including areas of snow, sea ice, glaciers, permafrost, ice sheets, and icebergs. In these regions, surface temperatures remain below freezing for a portion of each year. Since ice and snow exist relatively close to their melting point, they frequently change from solid to liquid and back again due to fluctuations in surface temperature. Although direct measurements of the cryosphere can be difficult to obtain due to the remote locations of many of these areas, using satellite observations scientists monitor changes in the global and regional climate by observing how regions of the Earth's cryosphere shrink and expand.

This animation portrays fluctuations in the cryosphere through observations collected from a variety of satellite-based sensors. The animation begins in Antarctica, showing some unique features of the Antarctic landscape found nowhere else on earth. Ice shelves, ice streams, glaciers, and the formation of massive icebergs can be seen clearly in the flyover of the Landsat Image Mosaic of Antarctica. A time series shows the movement of iceberg B15A, an iceberg 295 kilometers in length which broke off of the Ross Ice Shelf in 2000. Moving farther along the coastline, a time series of the Larsen ice shelf shows the collapse of over 3,200 square kilometers ice since January 2002. As we depart from the Antarctic, we see the seasonal change of sea ice and how it nearly doubles the apparent area of the continent during the winter.

From Antarctica, the animation travels over South America showing glacier locations on this mostly tropical continent. We then move further north to observe daily changes in snow cover over the North American continent. The clouds show winter storms moving across the United States and Canada, leaving trails of snow cover behind. In a close-up view of the western US, we compare the difference in land cover between two years: 2003 when the region received a normal amount of snow and 2002 when little snow was accumulated. The difference in the surrounding vegetation due to the lack of spring melt water from the mountain snow pack is evident.

As the animation moves from the western US to the Arctic region, the areas effected by permafrost are visible. As time marches forward from March to September, the daily snow and sea ice recede and reveal the vast areas of permafrost surrounding the Arctic Ocean.

The animation shows a one-year cycle of Arctic sea ice followed by the mean September minimum sea ice for each year from 1979 through 2008. The superimposed graph of the area of Arctic sea ice at this minimum clearly shows the dramatic decrease in Arctic sea ice over the last few years.

While moving from the Arctic to Greenland, the animation shows the constant motion of the Arctic polar ice using daily measures of sea ice activity. Sea ice flows from the Arctic into Baffin Bay as the seasonal ice expands southward. As we draw close to the Greenland coast, the animation shows the recent changes in the Jakobshavn glacier. Although Jakobshavn receded only slightly from 1964 to 2001, the animation shows significant recession from 2001 through 2009. As the animation pulls out from Jakobshavn, the effect of the increased flow rate of Greenland costal glaciers is shown by the thinning ice shelf regions near the Greenland coast.

This animation shows a wealth of data collected from satellite observations of the cryosphere and the impact that recent cryospheric changes are making on our planet.

[Summary provided by the NASA Scientific Visualization Studio.]

Related URL
Link: VIEW PROJECT HOME PAGE
Description: The EOSDIS project.

Link: GET SERVICE
Description: Download the media for the Tour of the Cryosphere.
Service Citation
Originators: NASA GSFC Scientific Visualization Studio
Title: A Tour of the Cryosphere
Provider: NASA GSFC Scientific Visualization Studio
URL: http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/vis/a000000/a003600/a003619/
Science Keywords
CRYOSPHERE >SEA ICE >ICE EDGES   [Definition]
CRYOSPHERE >SEA ICE >ICE EXTENT   [Definition]
CRYOSPHERE >SEA ICE >ICEBERGS   [Definition]
CRYOSPHERE >SEA ICE >SEA ICE MOTION   [Definition]
CRYOSPHERE >SNOW/ICE >ALBEDO   [Definition]
CRYOSPHERE >SNOW/ICE >AVALANCHE   [Definition]
CRYOSPHERE >SNOW/ICE >FROST   [Definition]
CRYOSPHERE >GLACIERS/ICE SHEETS >GLACIERS   [Definition]
CRYOSPHERE >SNOW/ICE >ICE DEPTH/THICKNESS   [Definition]
CRYOSPHERE >SNOW/ICE >ICE EXTENT   [Definition]
CRYOSPHERE >SNOW/ICE >ICE GROWTH/MELT   [Definition]
CRYOSPHERE >SNOW/ICE >ICE MOTION   [Definition]
CRYOSPHERE >GLACIERS/ICE SHEETS >ICE SHEETS   [Definition]
CRYOSPHERE >SNOW/ICE >ICE VELOCITY   [Definition]
CRYOSPHERE >SNOW/ICE >LAKE ICE   [Definition]
CRYOSPHERE >SNOW/ICE >PERMAFROST   [Definition]
CRYOSPHERE >SNOW/ICE >RIVER ICE   [Definition]
CRYOSPHERE >SNOW/ICE >SNOW COVER   [Definition]
CRYOSPHERE >SNOW/ICE >SNOW DENSITY   [Definition]
CRYOSPHERE >SNOW/ICE >SNOW DEPTH   [Definition]
CRYOSPHERE >SNOW/ICE >SNOW MELT   [Definition]
TERRESTRIAL HYDROSPHERE >GLACIERS/ICE SHEETS >GLACIERS   [Definition]
LAND SURFACE >LAND USE/LAND COVER >LAND USE/LAND COVER CLASSIFICATION   [Definition]
SPECTRAL/ENGINEERING >INFRARED WAVELENGTHS >INFRARED IMAGERY   [Definition]
SPECTRAL/ENGINEERING >RADAR >RADAR IMAGERY   [Definition]
SPECTRAL/ENGINEERING >VISIBLE WAVELENGTHS >VISIBLE IMAGERY   [Definition]
CRYOSPHERE >SEA ICE >SNOW MELT   [Definition]
CRYOSPHERE >SEA ICE >SNOW DEPTH   [Definition]
CRYOSPHERE >SEA ICE >SEA ICE ELEVATION   [Definition]
CRYOSPHERE >FROZEN GROUND >PERMAFROST   [Definition]
CRYOSPHERE >FROZEN GROUND >ROCK GLACIERS   [Definition]
CRYOSPHERE >FROZEN GROUND >GROUND ICE   [Definition]
CRYOSPHERE >GLACIERS/ICE SHEETS >ICEBERGS   [Definition]
CRYOSPHERE >GLACIERS/ICE SHEETS >GLACIER FACIES   [Definition]
CRYOSPHERE >GLACIERS/ICE SHEETS >GLACIER MASS BALANCE/ICE SHEET MASS BALANCE   [Definition]
CRYOSPHERE >GLACIERS/ICE SHEETS >GLACIER THICKNESS/ICE SHEET THICKNESS   [Definition]
CRYOSPHERE >GLACIERS/ICE SHEETS >GLACIER TOPOGRAPHY/ICE SHEET TOPOGRAPHY   [Definition]
CRYOSPHERE >GLACIERS/ICE SHEETS >GLACIER ELEVATION/ICE SHEET ELEVATION   [Definition]
CRYOSPHERE >GLACIERS/ICE SHEETS >GLACIER MOTION/ICE SHEET MOTION   [Definition]
TERRESTRIAL HYDROSPHERE >GLACIERS/ICE SHEETS >GLACIER FACIES   [Definition]
TERRESTRIAL HYDROSPHERE >GLACIERS/ICE SHEETS >GLACIER MASS BALANCE/ICE SHEET MASS BALANCE   [Definition]
TERRESTRIAL HYDROSPHERE >GLACIERS/ICE SHEETS >GLACIER THICKNESS/ICE SHEET THICKNESS   [Definition]
TERRESTRIAL HYDROSPHERE >GLACIERS/ICE SHEETS >GLACIER TOPOGRAPHY/ICE SHEET TOPOGRAPHY   [Definition]
TERRESTRIAL HYDROSPHERE >GLACIERS/ICE SHEETS >GLACIER ELEVATION/ICE SHEET ELEVATION   [Definition]
TERRESTRIAL HYDROSPHERE >GLACIERS/ICE SHEETS >GLACIER MOTION/ICE SHEET MOTION   [Definition]
ISO Topic Category
GEOSCIENTIFIC INFORMATION
IMAGERY/BASE MAPS/EARTH COVER
INLAND WATERS
OCEANS
Service Provider
Scientific Visualization Studio, Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA

Service Provider Personnel
Name: HORACE MITCHELL
Email: horace.g.mitchell at nasa.gov
Contact Address:
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Code 610.3
City: Greenbelt
Province or State: MD
Postal Code: 20771
Country: USA
Distribution Media
Distribution_Media: Online, DVD
Personnel
TYLER B. STEVENS
Role: SERF AUTHOR
Phone: (301) 614-6898
Fax: 301-614-5268
Email: Tyler.B.Stevens at nasa.gov
Contact Address:
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Global Change Master Directory
City: Greenbelt
Province or State: MD
Postal Code: 20771
Country: USA

HORACE MITCHELL
Role: TECHNICAL CONTACT
Email: horace.g.mitchell at nasa.gov
Contact Address:
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Code 610.3
City: Greenbelt
Province or State: MD
Postal Code: 20771
Country: USA
Creation and Review Dates
SERF Creation Date: 2006-07-14
SERF Last Revision Date: 2015-09-22
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