New University of Waterloo Antarctic images track climate change effects

The University of Waterloo published a mosaic of satellite images that shows how climate change is affecting Antarctic sea ice.

The University of Waterloo has published a unique mosaic of satellite images showing how climate change is affecting Antarctic sea ice. 

Changes in sea ice can be seen by comparing this new mosaic, a composite comprised of over 3,000 satellite images of the continent taken in 2008, with one created of the same area in 1997.

"By looking at the changes through time, it can show how the glaciers are advancing and retreating," said Ellsworth LeDrew, director of the Canadian Cryospheric Information Network​ (CCIN) and a professor in the Faculty of Environment at Waterloo​. 

The Canadian Space Agency collected the images over several months in 2008 aboard the RADARSAT-2 satellite. LeDrew told CBC the Canadian satellite is one of only a few radar satellites in the world. He said the benefit of using a radar satellite is that it cuts through cloud cover to get a more accurate reading. 

The colours of the map show different characteristics of the sea ice. LeDrew said the map proves that sea ice is thinning in the Antarctic, and contributing to a rise in sea level. 

"What this shows is where large chunks of sea ice are breaking off," he added..

He's heading to New Zealand Tuesday to present the image to Antarctic researchers at an international conference on the Antarctic. He said this is a new opportunity for Canada to share its findings with the Antarctic research community.  

All images taken from RADARSAT-2 can be found here.