The Catlin Arctic Survey  which will carry out a 1,000km survey of the floating ice in the Arctic Ocean is to be brought alive to 500 million users of Google Earth .
The launch of Ocean in Google Earth has added a new dimension to the popular site and by teaming up with Catlin Arctic Survey it enables users to follow the expedition and plot its progress across the surface of the frozen sea as it heads to the North Geographic Pole.
The new feature will allow users to see information from the exploration team directly from the Arctic Ocean as well as see photos and video. In addition there will be articles by the world’s leading scientists and researchers.
Speaking about the partnership, expedition director Pen Hadow said,
My passion for the Arctic Ocean is matched only by the urgency of our need to understand how it works within the global Earth system. Ocean in Google Earth will enable a global audience to follow the progress and findings of the Catlin Arctic Survey.”
Catlin Arctic Survey will be one of the first expeditions to feature in Oceans at Google Earth and is the first to feature the Arctic Ocean sea ice environment.
During the expedition, which begins later this month, the ice team will be conducting a series of scientific programmes to help understand what is happening to the Arctic Ocean’s sea ice which scientists believe is disappearing fast.
The Arctic sea ice currently covers almost three per cent of the Earth’s surface. The permanent central region of the Arctic Ocean’s ice cover has receded at a rate of up to 10% per decade since 1979 (US National Snow and Ice Data Centre). Last year’s summer melt saw Arctic sea ice plummet to its lowest level since satellite measurements began. The permanent ice, present year-round, is declining at a rate of at least 300,000 square kilometres (116,000 square miles) per decade (NASA). This is the equivalent to an area the size of the United Kingdom, Italy, or the Philippines and greater than the size of California.
The Arctic sea ice acts as a ‘reflective heat shield’, reflecting 80% of incoming solar energy, but it is disappearing quickly and the sea water below absorbs energy, resulting in thermal expansion, unpredictable weather patterns and rising sea levels. During the 20th century sea levels rose between 10 and 20 centimetres (IPCC’s 3rd Assessment Report), and a further increase of between 20 and 80 centimetres could lead to as many as 300 million people being flooded each year. (Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change). www.catlinarcticsurvey.com