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December 25 2012

Satellites check in on the North Pole


If Santa Claus is getting the feeling that someone's looking over his shoulder as he rushes to make his Christmas deadline, he's not wrong: A succession of satellites is monitoring his North Pole workshop and the rest of the Arctic on a daily basis. Based on the satellite readings, the long-term outlook is worrisome, for Santa and the rest of us as well.

This image shows the extent of Arctic sea ice, based on the latest microwave data from the Pentagon's DMSP-F17 satellite. Those readings are compared against the median extent for the same date over the 1979-2000 time frame. That median extent is indicated on the photo by the orange lines.

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