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European satellite saw the melting of the Arctic. / December 22, 2010 /

Ice in the Arctic is melting faster than predicted by current climate models. Such a conclusion was made by scientists from the analysis of the first data collected by the European satellite Cryosat-2, which is studying the arctic ice and map trends in the region. The results of the analysis, presented at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Society, and wrote about them briefly BBC News.

Apparatus Cryosat-2 examines the ice in the Arctic by sending pulses down in the microwave range. Waves are reflected both on the ice surface, and on the surface of the ocean (when they penetrate through cracks in the ice floes and the spaces between them). Determining the difference in time to return pulses reflected from ice and from the water, scientists can estimate the amount of ice in the Arctic region. Unlike other satellites orbit Cryosat-2 «hurt» very northern regions — up to 88 degrees north latitude. Still studying the Arctic companions traveled only to 86 degrees.

Based on information gathered by the satellite, scientists have created a map of the distribution of ice in the region, as well as the «height» and «depressions» of the ocean. With these data, scientists obtained a map of ocean currents in the Arctic, as the water «prefers to» wrap around «height» in a clockwise direction, while the «lowlands» — against. Specialists have also found that in the summer Arctic ice cover is reduced much more strongly than previously thought. This fact requires more detailed study, since the decrease in the amount of ice can lead to increased flow, because water tends to occupy the liberated territories.

In summer 2010 the area of ice in the Arctic has decreased to its lowest value since 1979 — 10.9 million square kilometers. This is 10.6 percent lower than the average in the period from 1979 to 2000. The area of Arctic ice is continuously decreasing over the past 19 years.

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