Many folks would like to see us back on the Moon and developing its resources.

Friday, August 17, 2007

[JAXA:0132] Total area of sea ice in Arctic Ocean smallest since observations started

Alright, maybe a stretch for a MOON, MARS, and BEYOND topic, BUT in
planning for long term operations it may be prudent to consider what
impact, if any, your operations will have on the local environment or a
global environment.

I know that there has been finger pointing as to who or what may be
affecting the loss of the Arctic ice, but a second, or third, or
more eyes looking at the data can be informative. Here we have some
information from Japan and their satellites and sensors with several
ways of looking at our biosphere.

Since they plan on going to the Moon next month it may be of interest to
this list to see what else they are doing in the field of launching
spacecraft. To that end I copied their latest press release post below.

Where you live and the surrounding environment are always of interest
whether that may be on an island nation that is concerned about
shorelines and food sources, or whether you are on the Moon and are
contending with temperature extremes and looking for possible sources of

You build instruments to assist in reading the variables that will then
help you predict what the effects will be.
- LRK -

When do you start to consider if there might also be other places to put
your living quarters, say even towards the stars.

Thanks for looking up and or down, if need be.
- LRK -

Larry Kellogg

Web Site:
RSS link:

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
Total area of sea ice in Arctic Ocean smallest
since observations started
- Much faster pace of ice melting than forecasted -

August 16, 2007 (JST)
Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC)
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)

The Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC, led
by President Yasuhiro Kato) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
(JAXA, led by President Keiji Tachikawa) cooperatively analyzed
oceanic and atmospheric observation data and sea ice data acquired by
satellites, and found that the sea ice area in the Arctic Ocean has
been decreasing at a much faster pace than expected compared to the
previous worst record in the summer of 2005. After satellite
observations started in 1978, the observed area shrunk to its lowest
level on August 15, 2007. Ice melting normally continues until mid
September, thus further shrinkage of the sea ice area is expected. The
observed phenomenon significantly exceeded the forecasted model
submitted in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
fourth Assessment Report, and the big difference tells us that the
model may not precisely reflect the actual situation in the Arctic

The following are findings as a result of analyses of observation data
acquired by the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer (AMSR-E)*1. The
AMSR-E acquires observation data and visible images of sea ice density.

(1) Since July, the smallest record of sea ice area in the Arctic
Ocean has been broken every day.
(2) Since the beginning of August, the shrinkage of sea ice has been
accelerated by a low pressure system generated and lingering off
(3) On August 15, the total sea ice area in the Arctic Ocean reached
a new low.
(4) If this pace of melting continues, the sea ice area reduction
pace may significantly exceed the IPCC forecast, and it may
actually reach the forecasted values for 2040 to 2050
(Figure 2 and 3.)

Estimated causes
The following are estimated causes of accelerated sea ice reduction
this year as a result of the comprehensive analysis of the observation
data acquired by JAMSTEC including observation data by ships,
continued observation by drifting buoys (JCAD, POPS*2) and
atmospherics data. (Please refer to Figure 4)

(1) Sea ice reduction has been observed not only along the coast of
Alaska but also along the Arctic Ocean shore of Canada this year.
Accordingly, the impact of friction from coastal areas is
smaller than usual thus sea ice tends to move in a large scale.
Therefore, fragile and easy-to-melt ice that has just formed in
coastal areas moves over a north latitude of 80 degrees and
spreads into the Arctic Ocean.
(2) As the fragile ice spreading into the Arctic Ocean melted
quickly and that facilitates the ocean water to absorb more
sunshine, ocean warming and sea ice melting have accelerated.
(3) More sea ice has been drifting toward the Atlantic Ocean from
the Arctic Ocean, thus the volume of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean
has been decreasing.

You can find the latest image of sea ice density in the Arctic Ocean
and past observation images on the website of the International Arctic
Research Center (IARC, Alaska Fairbanks.) The image data is updated
using the IARC-JAXA information system (IJIS), which JAXA places at
the IARC.

The Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer (AMSR-E) is one of the
onboard sensors of the American earth observation satellite Aqua,
which was launched in May 2002. By observing weak radio frequencies
emitted from Earth, the AMSR-E can measure sea ice, ocean temperature,
water vapor, and precipitation, day and night regardless of weather
conditions. The successor of the AMSR-E, the AMSR2 (which will be
installed into the GCOM-W1 satellite) is under development and is
scheduled for launch in Japan Fiscal Year 2011.

J-CAD (JAMSTEC Compact Arctic Drifter):
The JAMSTEC Compact Arctic Drifter (J-CAD) is a buoy that can
automatically observe ocean temperature, salt content, and ocean
current up to 250 meters in depth, as well as surface temperature and
atmospheric pressure in sea ice in the Arctic Ocean. By placing it on
drifting sea ice in the Arctic Ocean, the J-CAD can observe broader
areas. Developed by JAMSTEC, it was used between 2000 and 2005. Since
2006, the new generation buoy, POPS, has been in operation.

POPS (Polar Ocean Profiling System):
The Polar Ocean Profiling System is an observation system that enabled
multi-year observations of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean using an
argofloat. A platform is attached to sea ice, and an argofloat is
suspended with a cable from the platform. The argofloat bobs up and
down along the cable to measure water temperature and salt content
between 10 and 1,000 meters deep in the ocean.

Related Links
Arctic Ocean Climate System Group Website,
Institute of Observational Research for Global Change, JAMSTEC

AMSR-E Site, Earth Observation and Research Center, JAXA

Figure 1: The status of ice in the Arctic Ocean as observed
from the ship "Louis S. St-laurent" on August 6, 2007.

Figure 2: Data observed by AMSR-E.
The status of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean at its lowest level
in 2005 and 2006 (above) and that on August 15, 2007, (below).
The area encircled by a red frame shows the sea ice melting area.
Please also see Figure 4.

Figure 3: Change in the sea ice area in the Arctic Ocean as acquired
by the AMSR-E (2002-2007)

Figure 4: Change of ocean surface temperature
and salt content over years in sea ice melting areas
(Coastal areas of Alaska: North latitude 73.5-76 degrees and
West longitude 145-155 degrees [Red framed area in Figure 2])

This page URL:
Publisher : Public Affairs Department
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)
Marunouchi Kitaguchi Building,
1-6-5, Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8260


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