Experience climate change as it happens

Friday 23 May 14
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Louise Sandberg Sørensen
Senior Researcher
DTU Space
+4545 25 97 14

facts about polarportalen.dk

Polarportal.dk receives support from the Danish Cooperation for Environment in the Arctic (DANCEA), which is administrated by the Danish Energy Agency

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Write to info@polarportal.dk or visit

The Arctic is the area on the planet where global warming is having the most pronounced effect. Against this background, researchers from the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI), the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS) and DTU Space teamed up with the Danish Energy Agency to launch the website polarportal.dk in 2013 which offers live reports on the climate changes in the Arctic. The researchers have now completed a more advanced version of Polar Portal featuring animations that allow visitors to trace changes in wind, weather, sea ice melting and the colour of Greenland. The new version of polarportal.dk was launched on 20 May.

By Christoffer Muusmann

The Arctic is changing faster than other region in the world, which entails radically altered conditions for people, plants and animals—but also a range of new opportunities. If the sea ice continues to melt, it will, among other things, impact the climate’s energy balance, animal life and shipping. If the Inland Ice continues to melt faster than it is replaced, global sea levels will rise. And if the permafrost dries out, it will have dramatic consequences for Arctic fauna and infrastructure alike.

“Reports from the UN Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) indicate that the planet is facing serious alterations in its climate. The Arctic is one of the areas that is experiencing the most drastic changes. Few people have the opportunity to witness the changes first hand, but polarportal.dk gives Danish research institutions—and the population in general—the opportunity to trace developments in the Arctic day by day,” relates Rasmus Helveg Petersen, Danish Minister for Climate, Energy and Building.

“Denmark has a long-standing tradition of researching the Arctic. We have been monitoring the weather, the climate and the ice in Greenland for decades. This work is becoming more and more important now that both the Inland Ice and the sea ice are melting at an accelerating pace,” he adds.

Moving pictures
One of the key innovations on the newly launched version of polarportal.dk is the use of animations to present satellite images, measurements and model calculations as ‘moving pictures’. These animations demonstrate the development of the weather, the glaciers, the Inland Ice and the sea ice and provide answers to a number of questions: How much of the surface of the inland ice is melting? Which glaciers are retreating? How widespread is the sea ice?

Polarportal.dk is built up on a comprehensive volume of data collected and processed by DMI, GEUS and DTU Space. The unique aspect of the portal is that it covers both the Inland Ice and the sea ice. This makes it possible to view relationships between different phenomena in the Arctic region. If an animation of the weather reveals notable wind phenomena, for example, it is also possible to see what this means to the development and movement of the sea ice. And if a major development is taking place in a given area of the Inland Ice, the temperature animations on polarportal.dk may provide an explanation by presenting data about higher temperatures.

Keep up continuously
Katrine Krogh Andersen, Head of R&D at DMI, explains: “Major changes have taken place in the Greenland Inland Ice and the sea ice in the Arctic over the past 10–15 years. Global warming was responsible in part for initiating this process, and changes in the Arctic may have an impact on the climate in other areas.”

Maps, graphs and animations are updated on an ongoing basis—often daily—using new data from satellites and model calculations. Polarportal.dk thus provides real-time knowledge about how changes in the weather and climate are affecting the Inland Ice and the sea ice in the Arctic.

Later this summer, polarportal.dk will also present developments in the permafrost on South-West Greenland and the thickness of the Arctic sea ice.