As the northern hemisphere experiences the heat of summer, ice moves and melts in the Arctic waters and the far northern lands surrounding it. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this true-color image of sea ice off Greenland on July 16, 2015.
Large chunks of melting sea ice can be seen in the sea ice off the coast, and to the south spirals of ice have been shaped by the winds and currents that move across the Greenland Sea. Along the Greenland coast, cold, fresh melt water from the glaciers flows out to the sea, as do newly calved icebergs. Frigid air from interior Greenland pushes the ice away from the shoreline, and the mixing of cold water and air allows some sea ice to be sustained even at the height of summer.
According to observations from satellites, 2015 is on track to be another low year for arctic summer sea ice cover. The past ten years have included nine of the lowest ice extents on record. The annual minimum typically occurs in late August or early September. The amount of Arctic sea ice cover has been dropping as global temperatures rise. The Arctic is two to three times more sensitive to temperature changes as the Earth as a whole.
Image Credit: NASA/Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC
Last Updated: Aug. 24, 2015
Editor: Sarah Loff