Monday 29 April 2013

The receding Arctic ice

Arctic Sea Ice Minimum Volumes 1979-2012

This is an animated visualization of Arctic Sea Ice minimum volumes reached every September since 1979.
(I also composed and performed the piano music, "Ice Dreams")

The rate of ice loss in the Arctic is staggering. 

Since 1979, the volume of Summer Arctic Sea Ice has declined by 80% and is accelerating faster than scientists believed it would, or even could melt.

The first ice-free summer in the Arctic Ocean is expected to happen between 2016 and 2022.

About the data: Sea Ice Volume is calculated using the Pan-Arctic Ice Ocean Modeling and Assimilation System (PIOMAS, Zhang and Rothrock, 2003) developed at APL/PSC. 
Source data for this graph is available from ‪

More information:
The image first appeared in still form on Think Progress, and I decided to try to bring it to life over the following weeks:


An earlier video also featured on BBC's Newsnight last year:

I produced the animation using hand-written perl and php code to create povray scripts, and scheduling task distribution using MySQL between 7 linux servers working in parallel to render 750 HD720p frames for 30 seconds video. The "farm" renders 20 frames simultaneously taking between 1-2 hours per frame. On completion, ffmpeg combined the frames into a maximum quality mp4, and then I wrote some music and muxed it into final form for upload.

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