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Arctic Sea Ice Minimum Volumes 1979-2013

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Published on Nov 21, 2013

This is an animated visualization of the startling decline of Arctic Sea Ice, showing the minimum volume reached every September since 1979, set on a map of New York with a 10km grid to give an idea of scale. It is clear that the trend of Arctic sea ice decline indicates that it'll be ice-free for an increasingly large part of the year, with consequences for the climate.

The rate of ice loss in the Arctic is staggering. Since 1979, the volume of Summer Arctic sea ice has declined by more than 80% and accelerating faster than scientists believed it would, or even could melt.

Based on the rate of change of volume over the last 30 years, I expect the first ice-free summer day in the Arctic Ocean (defined as having less than 1 million kmĀ² of sea ice) to happen between 2016 and 2022, and thereafter occur more regularly with the trend of ice-free duration extending into August and October.

I also composed and played the piano music, "Ice Dreams". A longer version played live can be found here: http://youtu.be/_miBCygvO4Y

A full HD 1080p version is available for broadcast, and can be customized.

About the data: Sea Ice Volume is calculated using the Pan-Arctic Ice Ocean Modeling and Assimilation System (PIOMAS, Zhang and Rothrock, 2003) developed at APL/PSC.
Source data for this graph is available from http://psc.apl.washington.edu/wordpre...

More information:
The image first appeared in still form on Think Progress, and I decided to try to bring it to life over the following weeks:
http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013...

An earlier video also featured on BBC's Newsnight last year:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-env...

I produced the animation using hand-written perl and php code to create povray scripts, and scheduling task distribution using MySQL between 7 linux servers working in parallel to render 770 HD1080p frames. The "farm" renders 20 frames simultaneously taking between 1-2 hours per frame. On completion, ffmpeg combined the frames into a maximum quality mp4, and then I wrote some music and muxed it into final form for 720p upload.

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