Office of the Oceanographer of the Navy
National Ice Center
Defense Media Center
National Science Foundation
NASA/Goddard Scientific Visualization Lab
NARRATOR: Some of the most dramatic evidence of global climate change can be found in the Arctic. Over the last several decades, significant changes have been observed and measured there. This includes the disappearance of large areas of the normally persistent, thick, hard, multi-year ice, and a dramatic reduction of the summer ice extent.
In 2007, the summer minimum ice extent was 40 percent below the minima of the 1980s. An ice-diminished Arctic opens up the possibility of shorter routes for commercial shipping, greater access to potentially significant gas, oil, and mineral resources in the seabed, and expanded opportunities in commercial fishing.
As a result, human activity and interest in the Arctic is increasing. With over 1,000 miles of coastline bordering the Arctic Ocean, the U.S. is one of eight Arctic nations which share growing concerns regarding territorial sovereignty, national security, and homeland defense.
The sea ice environment of this remote region is monitored and studied by the Naval Ice Center, a component of the National Ice Center.
Commander Ray Chartier Jr. (USN): The mission of the National Ice Center is to provide timely, accurate and relevant snow and ice products and services to the US national interests that would operate in the Arctic, the Antarctic, the Great Lakes, or even the Chesapeake or Delaware bays.
NARRATOR: Located in Suitland, Maryland, this tri-agency center, represented by the U.S. Navy, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Coast Guard, is the worlds only operational activity that monitors global sea ice conditions on a 24/7 basis.
Dr. Pablo Clemente-Colon: The National Ice Center is a great national asset. For the last 30 years it has been a unique example of interagency and international collaboration - allowing us to leverage the different agencies capabilities.
Commander Ray Chartier Jr. (USN): The analysts take thousands of satellite images that come in every day and boil that down into a product that can render ice edge, ice thickness, ice extent - so that we can help plan and operate in and near the ice.
NARRATOR: While much of the National Ice Centers work is focused on ensuring safe and efficient navigation, it also supports scientific research and provides crucial information used by scientists to better monitor and understand climate change. Researchers working in the Arctic and Antarctic depend on the support of the National Ice Center to ensure the safety and effectiveness of their work.
Rear Admiral David Glove (USN): With all the changes that are occurring in the Arctic, the National Ice Center is very important to make sure that we can understand the trends of those changes over time and what we can anticipate in the future. As more human activity becomes prevalent, it will be important to better understand the environment so that we can protect our interests in that part of the world.