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Picture of the Day

Unprecedented ice loss in Russian ice cap

In the last few years, the Vavilov Ice Cap in the Russian High Arctic has dramatically accelerated, sliding as much as 82 feet a day in 2015, according to a new multi-national, multi-institute study. That dwarfs the ice's previous average speed of about 2 inches per day and has challenged scientists' assumptions about the stability of the cold ice caps dotting Earth's high latitudes. Glaciers and ice caps like Vavilov cover nearly 300,000 square miles of Earth's surface and hold about a foot of potential sea-level rise. Scientists have never seen such acceleration in this kind of ice cap before, and the researchers report that their finding raises the possibility that other, currently stable ice caps may be more vulnerable than expected. For the new assessment, researchers played the part of forensic ice detectives, piecing together the ice cap's deterioration by spying on the advancing ice with remote sensing technology from a constellation of satellites, operated by an organization in Colorado. The project also relied on support from the National Science Foundation and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which funded the development of high-resolution topographic maps of the Arctic.

Visit Website | Image credit: NASA/USGS