Scientists have a few means of collecting information about the melting of the polar ice caps. The first is images from NASA satellites, which clearly show that the ice caps are shrinking in terms of total area and thickness (satellite evidence shows that the ice caps are shrinking by about 9% every decade). Secondly, submarines are used to measure the thickness of the ice, and have indicated that significant losses in thickness have occurred in the past 30 years. Scientists have travelled to the Arctic to gather more detailed information regarding the thickness and age of the ice, demonstrating that the ice is thinning, and the amount of older ice (5 years or older) is decreasing. Finally, even without any complicated math or detailed observations, certain changes in polar ice, such as the formation of cracks, the breaking up of large chunks of ice, and the extended length of time that passages through the ice remain open in the summer, make it clear even to the untrained observer that polar ice is undergoing some dramatic changes.
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