Satellite used to watch melted Arctic ice

Oct. 2, 2003 at 7:57 PM
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GREENBELT, Md., Oct. 2 (UPI) -- NASA researchers are using a satellite and aircraft video to create a new technique for detecting ponds of water on top of Arctic sea ice.

Researchers say until now it was impossible to accurately monitor the melted water from space. Water that forms on sea ice during the summer, called a melt pond, absorbs the Sun's energy rather than reflecting it back into space the way ice does.

The balance between reflected and absorbed energy has a large effect on Arctic and global climate. When more ponds of water form on the Arctic ice cover in early summer, more heat is absorbed, thereby causing the Arctic's sea ice cover to melt at a faster rate.

Knowledge of when and where those melt ponds form will help scientists calculate the balance of energy in the Arctic and improve their knowledge and projections of climate both regionally and globally.

NASA researchers say the new technique offers the possibility of determining when, and mapping where, such melt ponds form, thereby aiding scientists' understanding of the Arctic heat balance.

An article describing the new technique appeared in a recent issue of the journal, Remote Sensing of Environment.

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