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These articles provide answers to frequently asked questions related to Earth's frozen realms. Questions range from general background information and detailed science processes to the data gathered and archived at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) and its data management programs including NOAA@NSIDC, the NASA NSIDC Distributed Active Archive Center (DAAC), and the Exchange for Local Observations and Knowledge of the Arctic (ELOKA). If you have a question that is not answered here, please contact NSIDC User Services.
The formation of the Greenland Ice Sheet was not typical and research shows that it may be more sensitive to natural climate variability than previously thought.
By preserving evidence of ancient temperatures and greenhouse gases, ice cores show scientists how much our planet has changed.
Senior research scientist Walt Meier discusses why scientists are conservative about Arctic sea ice loss. He stresses that for something as complex as climate, it is important to not focus too much on a single extreme event or on short-term trends.
Since the 1980s, extreme weather events have increased, affecting millions of people across the globe. Multiple studies have suggested a potential causal relationship between Arctic ice retreat and extreme weather in the midlatitudes, but not all climate scientists agree that a clear relationship exists.
As Arctic sea ice melts to reveal the open ocean underneath, fragile coastlines become vulnerable to bigger waves from storms, leading to accelerated erosion that impacts people and wildlife.
With satellite observations of sea ice extent stretching back to November 1978, NSIDC scientists can draw from more than 40 years of data to determine when an extent is above or below average or when it reaches a record high or low.