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Sea ice is formed from ocean water that freezes, whether along coasts or to the sea floor (fast ice) or floating on the surface (drift ice) or packed together (pack ice). The most important areas of pack ice are the polar ice packs. Because of vast amounts of water added to or removed from the oceans and atmosphere, the behavior of polar ice packs have a significant impact of the global changes in climate.

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To the Arctic for CryoSat and beyond

20 March 2017

After the relative quiet of the long dark winter months, the Arctic will be a tad busier over the coming weeks as numerous researchers descend on this harsh, yet fragile environment. Their aim is not to disturb its beauty, but to join forces in an all-out effort to measure ice on land and sea.

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Sentinels warn of dangerous ice crack

16 February 2017

Following the appearance of a large crack in the ice shelf close to the Halley VI research station in Antarctica, information from the Copernicus Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 satellites helped to decide to close the base temporarily.

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CryoSat reveals lake outbursts beneath Antarctic ice

08 February 2017

A novel way of using ESA's CryoSat mission has revealed how lakes beneath Thwaites Glacier drained into the Amundsen Sea - potentially the largest such outflow ever reported in this region of West Antarctica.

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Satellite cousins have ice covered

16 December 2016

Although not designed to deliver information on ice, ESA's Earth Explorer SMOS satellite can detect thin sea-ice. Since its cousin, CryoSat, is better at measuring thicker ice scientists have found a way of using these missions together to yield an even clearer picture of the changing Arctic.

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Arctic freeze slows down

30 November 2016

ESA's CryoSat satellite has found that the Arctic has one of the lowest volumes of sea ice of any November, matching record lows in 2011 and 2012. Early winter growth of ice in the Arctic has been about 10% lower than usual.

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Iceberg patrol gains faster updates from orbit

09 November 2016

The international iceberg patrol service set up after the sinking of the Titanic is now able to track drifting ice from orbit more swiftly through ESA-backed cloud computing.

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CryoSat sets new standard for measuring sea levels

26 July 2016

Trying to measure sea levels around rugged coastlines is not always an easy task. ESA's CryoSat satellite is making a difference with its radar altimeter.

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CryoSat reveals recent Greenland ice loss

12 July 2016

In the most detailed picture to date, information from ESA's CryoSat satellite reveals how melting ice in Greenland has recently contributed twice as much to sea-level rise as the prior two decades.

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From petabytes to pictures

11 May 2016

Thousands of scientists are at the Living Planet Symposium in Prague this week to present the latest findings on our changing planet. Between the mountains of data coming from multiple satellites and the high level of expertise needed to translate them into useful information, the results are not always easy to understand.

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Nansen gives birth to two icebergs

14 April 2016

Multiple satellites, including Europe's Sentinels, have captured images of two large icebergs that broke away from Antarctica's Nansen ice shelf on 7 April.