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Spring Thaw

Spring Thaw

These images show the progress of the spring thaw in Alaska during the year 2000. Snow and ice are displayed in blue shades, while ice crystals mixed with water and bare ground are colored yellow and red. A series of similar measurements conducted since 1988 show that the thaw in the Arctic has been advancing by almost one day a year.

Studies of change in the Arctic are important because the region is extremely sensitive to change in temperature. “If global climate change is happening, here’s where you would expect to see it,” says JPL research scientist Dr. Kyle McDonald.

Data from the the Seawinds scatterometer aboard QuikSCAT were used for these measurements. The Seawinds scatterometer can detect the changes in water between its frozen to liquid states.

Image courtesy Kyle McDonald, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory