Age range: 13 - 19
Resource type: video
Author: Piotr Głowacki
The ice cap in the Arctic Ocean changes over the course of a year. In winter (in March), the surface of the floating ice is one and a half times larger than the area of Europe (16 million km2), while at the end of Arctic summer (in September) it shrinks to 3 million km2. Ice reflects sunlight more strongly than water, which is why ice- and snow-free areas heat up faster. Water evaporates more easily from a sea which is not covered by ice. As a result, more water vapour enters the atmosphere, which causes more precipitation due to the movement of air masses, also over land. This phenomenon affects the atmosphere and has a strong impact on air circulation in the European part of the Arctic. These weather changes are also felt in Poland. Tracking changes in the ice cap in the Arctic helps to forecast the weather not only for the coming days, but also in the longer term. Thanks to satellite images, a 45-year series of data on the changes in ice cap around the North Pole is available.It is rather alarming that the ice cap is shrinking more rapidly. How fast is this process? The ice on the surface of the Arctic Ocean and surrounding seas that has disappeared over the last 10 years, has a surface comparable to the area of the territory of Poland . By analysing the shape the ice cap takes, we can draw interesting conclusions about natural phenomena in the northern hemisphere.
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