Pasadena, CA – NASA says that when an ice cube is exposed to a heat source, like warm water or air, it melts. So, it’s no surprise that a warming climate is causing our glaciers and ice sheets to melt. However, predicting just how much the glaciers and ice sheets will melt and how quickly – key components of sea level rise – is not nearly as straightforward.
Glaciers and ice sheets are far more complex structures than ice cubes. They form when snow accumulates and is compressed into ice by new snow over many years.
Pasadena, CA – Earth’s driest ecosystems are a study in extremes: They can be blazingly hot stretches of sand like the Sahara Desert or shatteringly cold expanses of ice such as those in Greenland and Antarctica.
These arid regions receive very little annual precipitation, and the effects of climate change in these ecosystems are poorly understood. A joint effort between NASA and the Qatar Foundation aims to address that – and, in the process, help communities that are being impacted by those changes.
Greenbelt, MD – An international effort that brought together more than 60 ice, ocean, and atmosphere scientists from three dozen international institutions has generated new estimates of how much of an impact Earth’s melting ice sheets could have on global sea levels by 2100.
If greenhouse gas emissions continue apace, Greenland and Antarctica’s ice sheets could together contribute more than 15 inches (38 centimeters) of global sea level rise – and that’s beyond the amount that has already been set in motion by Earth’s warming climate.
Pasadena, CA – NASA says work has begun on an ambitious new mission that will carry a cutting-edge 8.4-foot (2.5-meter) telescope high into the stratosphere on a balloon. Tentatively planned to launch in December 2023 from Antarctica, ASTHROS (short for Astrophysics Stratospheric Telescope for High Spectral Resolution Observations at Submillimeter-wavelengths) will spend about three weeks drifting on air currents above the icy southern continent and achieve several firsts along the way.
Managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, ASTHROS observes far-infrared light, or light with wavelengths much longer than what is visible to the human eye.
Pasadena, CA – Seven of the regions that dominate global ice mass losses are melting at an accelerated rate, a new study shows, and the quickened melt rate is depleting freshwater resources that millions of people depend on.
The impact of melting ice in Greenland and Antarctica on the world’s oceans is well documented. But the largest contributors to sea level rise in the 20th century were melting ice caps and glaciers located in seven other regions: Alaska, the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, the Southern Andes, High Mountain Asia, the Russian Arctic, Iceland and the Norwegian archipelago Svalbard. The five Arctic regions accounted for the greatest share of ice loss.
Greenbelt, MD – Using the most advanced Earth-observing laser instrument NASA has ever flown in space, scientists have made precise, detailed measurements of how the elevation of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have changed over 16 years.
The results provide insights into how the polar ice sheets are changing, demonstrating definitively that small gains of ice in East Antarctica are dwarfed by massive losses in West Antarctica.
Pasadena, CA – Greenland and coastal Louisiana may not seem to have a lot in common. An autonomous territory of Denmark, Greenland is covered in snow most of the year and is home to about 56,000 people. On the other hand, more than 2 million people call coastal Louisiana home and the region rarely sees snow.
But their economies, though 3,400 miles (5,400 kilometers) apart, share a dependence on the sea. The majority of Greenland’s residents rely on the territory’s robust Arctic fishing industry. And in Louisiana, the coasts, ports and wetlands provide the basis for everything from shipping to fishing to tourism. As a result, both locales and the people who live in them are linked by a common environmental thread: melting ice and consequent sea level rise.
Washington, D.C. – Across NASA’s many missions, thousands of scientists, engineers, and other experts and professionals all over the country are doing what they do best, but now from home offices and via video conferencing.
With most personnel supporting missions remotely to keep onsite staff at a minimal level in response to Coronavirus (COVID-19), the Agency is moving ahead strongly with everything from space exploration to using our technology and innovation to help inform policy makers.
Pasadena, CA – According to NASA, during the exceptionally warm Arctic summer of 2019, Greenland lost 600 billion tons of ice – enough to raise global sea levels by nearly a tenth of an inch (2.2 millimeters) in just two months, a new study shows.
Led by scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the University of California, Irvine, the study also concludes that Antarctica continues to lose mass, particularly in the Amundsen Sea Embayment and the Antarctic Peninsula on the western part of the continent; however, those losses have been partially offset by gains from increased snowfall in the northeast.
Pasadena, CA – NASA says the Antarctic Circumpolar Current flows in a loop around Antarctica, connecting the Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean. It is one of the most significant ocean currents in our climate system because it facilitates the exchange of heat and other properties among the oceans it links.
But how the current transfers heat, particularly vertically from the top layer of the ocean to the bottom layers and vice versa, is still not fully understood. This current is very turbulent, producing eddies – swirling vortices of water similar to storms in the atmosphere – between 30 to 125 miles (50 to 200 kilometers) in diameter.
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