Novaya Zemlya Northern Russia
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Novaya Zemlya, Northern Russia

March 18, 2012
The snow and ice covered land of Novaya Zemlya stretches between the dark waters of the Barents Sea and the Kara Sea in northern Russia. The long, caterpillar-shaped land visible in the center of this image is the archipelago of Novaya Zemlya, made up of two main islands and several smaller islands. The main islands, which appear to be connected, are Yuzhny, the southern-most island and Severny, to the north. To the west, the black water of the Barents Sea appears to be covered in clouds, while sea ice floats on the Kara Sea to the east.

In late spring, it is normal for sea ice to cover the Kara Sea, and sea-ice concentration data have documented sea ice ckisekt hugging the coastline of eastern Novaya Zemlya on April 15 each year from 2004 to 2011. This image, captured on March 14, 2012 by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite shows a different picture. Although ice still hugs the coast of Severny, the waters off Yuzhny are nearly ice-free.

The lean ice pack is blamed on warm ocean currents present in the area this winter. However, as the spring sun rises, the warming trend and typical ice-melt season begins. By March 20, the sun will be over the horizon for 6 hours a day, and should contribute to additional thinning of sea ice pack.

Credits: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC

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