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National Geographic Atlas: Mapping the polar ice caps

How maps are charting the shrinking polar ice caps.

Published 11 Oct 2014, 11:00 BST, Updated 1 Jul 2021, 14:33 BST

Study the same atlas, reproduced over time, and it's easy to chart the shifts and eruptions of world history. There's perhaps no clearer illustration of how we're shaping our planet now than the maps of the shrinking polar ice caps.

Vanishing arctic ice in the upcoming 10th edition of National Geographic Atlas (published October 2014) represents what Society geographers are calling one of the most striking changes in over a century of National Geographic cartography. NGS geographer Juan José Valdés called it "the biggest visible change other than the break-up of the USSR."

Global warming and rises in ocean temperatures are causing a reduction in 'multi-year ice' (ice that survives more than two summers). Satellite images, taken in May, showed the third lowest extent of sea ice on record for that month.

Valdés added: "You hear reports all the time about this. But until you have a hard-copy map in your hand, the message doesn't really hit home."

Anniversary Atlas

To mark the 100th anniversary of National Geographic cartography, the National Geographic Atlas of the World, Tenth Edition comes with illustrated maps and infographics charting our rapidly changing planet.
RRP: $195 (£115).

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Published in the October 2014 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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