MODIS false color image of Greenland on the 17th of June 2003.
Scores of tiny black dots march vertically down the edge of Greenland's ice cap, represented in turquoise blue. These black dots are meltwater ponds — pools of liquid water cased by melting ice — and they've increased significantly in number since 2001. While some amount of melting is to be expected during the summer months, the abundance of meltwater ponds indicates that the cause is not so simple. Scientists have documented that the seasonal thaw along the margins of the ice sheet has been starting much earlier in the year and affecting a larger area than in the past quarter century. At the same time, regional sea ice has been declining. For more information on this phenomena and its possible consequences, please read Vanishing Ice, on the Earth Observatory.
This false-color Terra MODIS image was acquired on June 17, 2003. Black represents liquid water, turquoise blue represents ice or ice clouds, white represents liquid clouds, and green and brown represent land. True-color images of this event are also featured in the Earth Observatory's News Room.
Image and text courtesy of NASA's MODIS Land Rapid Response Team.