There was a time when people simply didn’t know what was in the Arctic circle.
"Whether it was ice, whether it was sea, whether it was land, whether there was a civilization up there — there were a lot of weird theories about holes in the Earth," author Hampton Sides tells NPR’s Scott Simon.
The findings have major implications for the search for life outside of Earth, especially on the moons of Enceladus and Europa, where scientists believe a thick icy crust covers a vast, internal liquid ocean.
Over the past few decades, Arctic sea ice has been retreating, and although research shows a downward trend in snow on land in the Arctic, long-term measurements of snow depth on sea ice have been less clear. But now, new research using data from NASA’s Operation IceBridge shows that snow depth on Arctic sea ice has been decreasing over the past several decades, a trend largely owing to later sea ice freeze-up dates in the Arctic.
Scientists had never measured waves in the Beaufort Sea, an area north of Alaska, until recently. Permanent sea ice cover prevented their formation. But much of the region is now ice-free by September, and researchers were able to anchor a sensor to measure wave heights in the central Beaufort Sea in 2012.