Geospatial work done by NASA shows that the thickest parts of the Arctic ice caps are melting at a faster rate than the thinner, younger parts. NASA scientist Josefino Comiso compiled data from NASA and DoD satellites to demonstrate this trend over several decades. Comiso found that the area of multi-year ice, or ice that has been around for at minimum two summers, is decreasing by about 17% per decade. While seasonal ice comes and goes with each summer and is meant to disappear, the gradual disappearance of multi-year ice is worrisome. Comiso constructed a time-series of multi-year ice for a period of 32 years. The satellites he got the data from used microwaves to determine the area of ice, which is a unique method of applying geospatial capabilities. The satellite used to collect the data was the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP), which possesses the F17 Special Sensor Microwave Imager/Sounder (SSMIS). The data collected from this sensor led to the creation of the Sea Ice Index, which was funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The microwave sensors allow for observation of varying brightness levels of the ice. The brightness data are analyzed with an algorithm that distinguishes multi-year ice from other types of ice. Such an environmental issue can certainly lead to human rights issues down the line. With shrinking ice caps and rising sea levels, entire nations, like the Maldives, may end up under water.

Sources:

http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/thick-melt.html

http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/about-the-data/

http://www.noaa.gov/

http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/10/17/maldives.underwater.meeting/