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Topic: Antarctica

NASA selects Instruments for mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’ Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA has selected nine science instruments for a mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa, to investigate whether the mysterious icy moon could harbor conditions suitable for life.

NASA’s Galileo mission yielded strong evidence that Europa, about the size of Earth’s moon, has an ocean beneath a frozen crust of unknown thickness. If proven to exist, this global ocean could have more than twice as much water as Earth.

With abundant salt water, a rocky sea floor, and the energy and chemistry provided by tidal heating, Europa could be the best place in the solar system to look for present day life beyond our home planet.

This artist's rendering shows a concept for a future NASA mission to Europa in which a spacecraft would make multiple close flybys of the icy Jovian moon, thought to contain a global subsurface ocean. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s rendering shows a concept for a future NASA mission to Europa in which a spacecraft would make multiple close flybys of the icy Jovian moon, thought to contain a global subsurface ocean. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA study reveals Antarctica’s Larsen B Ice Shelf thinning rapidly

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A new NASA study finds the last remaining section of Antarctica’s Larsen B Ice Shelf, which partially collapsed in 2002, is quickly weakening and is likely to disintegrate completely before the end of the decade.

A team led by Ala Khazendar of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, found the remnant of the Larsen B Ice Shelf is flowing faster, becoming increasingly fragmented and developing large cracks. Two of its tributary glaciers also are flowing faster and thinning rapidly.

Antarctica's Larsen B Ice Shelf is likely to shatter into hundreds of icebergs like this one before the end of the decade, according to a new NASA study. (NSIDC/Ted Scambos)

Antarctica’s Larsen B Ice Shelf is likely to shatter into hundreds of icebergs like this one before the end of the decade, according to a new NASA study. (NSIDC/Ted Scambos)

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NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory completes test, produces First Global Maps

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – With its antenna now spinning at full speed, NASA’s new Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory has successfully re-tested its science instruments and generated its first global maps, a key step to beginning routine science operations next month.

SMAP launched January 31st on a minimum three-year mission to map global soil moisture and detect whether soils are frozen or thawed. The mission will help scientists understand the links among Earth’s water, energy and carbon cycles; help reduce uncertainties in predicting weather and climate; and enhance our ability to monitor and predict natural hazards such as floods and droughts.

SMAP radar image acquired from data from March 31 to April 3, 2015. Weaker radar signals (blues) reflect low soil moisture or lack of vegetation, such as in deserts. Strong radar signals (reds) are seen in forests. SMAP's radar also takes data over the ocean and sea ice. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSFC)

SMAP radar image acquired from data from March 31 to April 3, 2015. Weaker radar signals (blues) reflect low soil moisture or lack of vegetation, such as in deserts. Strong radar signals (reds) are seen in forests. SMAP’s radar also takes data over the ocean and sea ice. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSFC)

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NASA and University of Texas researchers find two seafloor troughs that could threaten East Antarctica Glacier

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin, NASA and other research organizations have discovered two seafloor troughs that could allow warm ocean water to reach the base of Totten Glacier, East Antarctica’s largest and most rapidly thinning glacier.

The discovery likely explains the glacier’s extreme thinning and raises concern about its impact on sea level rise.

This is the East Antarctic coastline. Icebergs are highlighted by the sunlight, and the open ocean appears black. (NASA)

This is the East Antarctic coastline. Icebergs are highlighted by the sunlight, and the open ocean appears black. (NASA)

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NASA reports Melt Rate of West Antarctic Glaciers has Tripled

 

Written by Carol Rasmussen
NASA Earth Science News Team

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A comprehensive, 21-year analysis of the fastest-melting region of Antarctica has found that the melt rate of glaciers there has tripled during the last decade.

The glaciers in the Amundsen Sea Embayment in West Antarctica are hemorrhaging ice faster than any other part of Antarctica and are the most significant Antarctic contributors to sea level rise. This study by scientists at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), and NASA is the first to evaluate and reconcile observations from four different measurement techniques to produce an authoritative estimate of the amount and the rate of loss over the last two decades.

Glaciers seen during NASA's Operation IceBridge research flight to West Antarctica on Oct. 29, 2014. (NASA/Michael Studinger)

Glaciers seen during NASA’s Operation IceBridge research flight to West Antarctica on Oct. 29, 2014. (NASA/Michael Studinger)

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NASA researchers report Antarctic Sea Ice growth hits Record high

 

Written by Kate Ramsayer
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Sea ice surrounding Antarctica reached a new record high extent this year, covering more of the southern oceans than it has since scientists began a long-term satellite record to map sea ice extent in the late 1970s.

The upward trend in the Antarctic, however, is only about a third of the magnitude of the rapid loss of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean.

The new Antarctic sea ice record reflects the diversity and complexity of Earth’s environments, said NASA researchers. Claire Parkinson, a senior scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, has referred to changes in sea ice coverage as a microcosm of global climate change.

On Sept. 19, 2014, the five-day average of Antarctic sea ice extent exceeded 20 million square kilometers for the first time since 1979, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. The red line shows the average maximum extent from 1979-2014. (NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio/Cindy Starr)

On Sept. 19, 2014, the five-day average of Antarctic sea ice extent exceeded 20 million square kilometers for the first time since 1979, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. The red line shows the average maximum extent from 1979-2014. (NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio/Cindy Starr)

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NASA Scientists find Hidden Canyons under Greenland that increases sea level rise estimates for the future

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Scientists at NASA and the University of California, Irvine (UCI), have found that canyons under Greenland’s ocean-feeding glaciers are deeper and longer than previously thought, increasing the amount of Greenland’s estimated contribution to future sea level rise.

“The glaciers of Greenland are likely to retreat faster and farther inland than anticipated, and for much longer, according to this very different topography we have discovered,” said Mathieu Morlighem, a UCI associate project scientist who is lead author of the new research paper. The results were published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

A glacier in the Sukkertoppen ice cap, southwest Greenland, flows down a rocky canyon like those mapped in this study. (NASA)

A glacier in the Sukkertoppen ice cap, southwest Greenland, flows down a rocky canyon like those mapped in this study. (NASA)

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West Antarctic Ice Sheet unstoppable loss not unexpected by NASA Scientists

 

Written by Patrick Lynch
NASA’s Earth Science News Team

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The new finding that the eventual loss of a major section of West Antarctica’s ice sheet “appears unstoppable” was not completely unexpected by scientists who study this area.

The study, led by glaciologist Eric Rignot at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, and the University of California, Irvine, follows decades of research and theory suggesting the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is inherently vulnerable to change.

Although the Amundsen Sea region is only a fraction of the whole West Antarctic Ice Sheet, the region contains enough ice to raise global sea levels by 4 feet (1.2 meters). (NASA/GSFC/SVS)

Although the Amundsen Sea region is only a fraction of the whole West Antarctic Ice Sheet, the region contains enough ice to raise global sea levels by 4 feet (1.2 meters). (NASA/GSFC/SVS)

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NASA study reveals West Antarctic Glacier melting appears to be irreversible

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A new study by researchers at NASA and the University of California, Irvine, finds a rapidly melting section of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet appears to be in an irreversible state of decline, with nothing to stop the glaciers in this area from melting into the sea.

The study presents multiple lines of evidence, incorporating 40 years of observations that indicate the glaciers in the Amundsen Sea sector of West Antarctica “have passed the point of no return,” according to glaciologist and lead author Eric Rignot, of UC Irvine and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Thwaites Glacier. (NASA)

Thwaites Glacier. (NASA)

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NASA’s AIM spacecraft data shows Teleconnections in Earth’s Atmosphere linking Climate and Weather across the Globe

 

Written by Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Earth’s poles are separated by four oceans, six continents and more than 12,000 nautical miles.

Turns out, that’s not so far apart.

New data from NASA’s AIM spacecraft have revealed “teleconnections” in Earth’s atmosphere that stretch all the way from the North Pole to the South Pole and back again, linking weather and climate more closely than simple geography would suggest.

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