Falling Off the Map

Arctic sea ice has melted so much, National Geographic had to redraw its atlas.

August 12, 2015

Climate change is keeping the mapmakers over at National Geographic busy. As the Arctic warms twice as fast as the rest of the world, they’re putting down their white pencils and grabbing the blue. Made for the 10th edition of the National Geographic Atlas of the World, the updates to the region reflect “one of the most striking changes in the publication’s history,” the magazine says. So striking, in fact, that President Obama referred to it while unveiling his Clean Power Plan last week.

The redrawn map is based on data from a 30-year NASA study, published in 2012. As geographer Juan José Valdès tells National Geographic, these illustrations “open people’s eyes to what’s happening in the world.”

A GIF of National Geographic atlases from 1999 through 2014 shows how Arctic ice has melted over time. Courtesy of National Geographic

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