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Ask a Scientist

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.

 

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We have been watching surface melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet (see Greenland Ice Sheet Today) as one sign of climate change. Covering some 656,000 square miles and ranging from 1 to 2 miles thick, this mass of ice is often considered a bellwether
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Scientists have discovered a large aquifer, the size of Ireland, near the surface of the Greenland Ice Sheet. “This was a big surprise,” said Jason Box, a researcher for the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, “because we were drilling before
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In recent years with sharp summer sea ice decline, the Arctic seems more sensitive to climate warming than elsewhere on Earth. But are other frozen features of Earth changing too? Notably, most of the world's glaciers are also getting smaller—except
Sample image of Antarctic sea ice extent
Besides occurring on the opposite side of the globe, Antarctic sea ice differs from Arctic sea ice in a couple of respects. First, the Arctic is an ocean basin largely surrounded by land whereas the Antarctic is a continent surrounded by ocean, and
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Guest post by Mark Serreze, NSIDC Director and Professor, Department of Geography, University of Colorado Boulder The polar vortex is the region of the atmosphere that contains the hemisphere’s cold air, rotating from west to east. In the Northern
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Although Arctic sea ice extent did not set a low record this year, it’s still clear that there is less sea ice than there used to be. Scientists are keeping a close eye not only on the dwindling ice, but also on the ripple effect its loss might have