The ice in the Arctic officially reached the summer minimum on September 12th after a blazing summer in the North. The ice reached the second highest minimum in recorded history just a bit less than 2007 where almost half the ice disappeared off the cap of the world. Read the official post from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). The NSIDC has produced a number of excellent animations for Google Earth depicting real-time analysis of the amount of ice on both poles over time. Using a demarcation line of the average ice melt extents over the past few decades as a reference, you can compare the current levels and see just how bad the melting has been the last two years.
The NSIDC has now updated their animations with better coverage and twice the resolution of detail. Try the 30-day animation first. If your computer and video card have plenty of memory, then you can try the 60-day or 90-day animations as well. Once you choose one of the files above, and it loads in Google Earth, put your mouse in the upper center to make the time animation slider appear. Then click the “play” button (triangular arrow like you see on a TV remote) to begin the animation. To speed up the animation, click on the “clock” icon on the left of the slider and adjust the “Animation speed” slider. Each frame of the animation has to load once before you can play the animation quickly. It may take a few moments to load all the frames (especially if you pick the 90-day animation).
Here is a video what one of the animations looks like in Google Earth (this was back in August):
You can find the complete list of available NSIDC Google Earth visualizations here.
Related – other Google Earth scientific visualizations: