Pasadena, CA – A new study of Greenland’s shrinking ice sheet reveals that many of the island’s glaciers are not only retreating, but are also undergoing other physical changes. Some of those changes are causing the rerouting of freshwater rivers beneath the glaciers, where it meets the bedrock.
These rivers carry nutrients into the ocean, so this reconfiguring has the potential to impact the local ecology as well as the human communities that depend on it.
Greenbelt, MD – For eleven years from 2009 through 2019, the planes of NASA’s Operation IceBridge flew above the Arctic, Antarctic and Alaska, gathering data on the height, depth, thickness, flow and change of sea ice, glaciers and ice sheets.
Designed to collect data during the years between NASA’s two Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellites, ICESat and ICESat-2, IceBridge made its final polar flight in November 2019, one year after ICESat-2’s successful launch.
As the team and planes move on to their next assignments, the scientists and engineers reflected on a decade of IceBridge’s most significant accomplishments.
Greenbelt, MD – NASA says ice fronts have retreated, rocky peaks are more exposed, fewer icebergs drift to the ocean: the branching network of glaciers that empty into Greenland’s Sermilik Fjord has changed significantly in the last half century. Comparing Landsat images from 1972 and 2019, those changes and more come into view.
The glaciers appear brownish grey in this true-color Landsat 8 satellite image from August 12th, 2019. The color indicates that the surface has melted, a process that concentrates dust and rock particles and leads to a darker recrystallized ice sheet surface.
Written by Carol Rasmussen
Washington, D.C. – “Three, two, one … drop!” Researchers in NASA’s Oceans Melting Greenland campaign heard that phrase 239 times this fall. Each time, it triggered a team member to release a scientific probe from an airplane into the seawater along the coast of Greenland. The probes are part of a five-year effort to improve our understanding of the ocean’s role in Greenland’s rapid ice loss.
Since 2016, OMG has been collecting measurements around the huge island on three separate trips a year. Each spring, a research aircraft measures the height of the ice sheet after the winter snows.
Science at NASA
Washington, D.C. – More than 90 percent of our planet’s freshwater ice is bound in the massive ice sheets and glaciers of the Antarctic and Greenland. As temperatures around the world slowly climb, melt waters from these vast stores of ice add to rising sea levels.
All by itself, Greenland could bump sea levels by 7 meters (23 feet) if its ice melted completely.
And … it’s melting.
Written by Maria-José Viñas
Washington, D.C. – On Greenland’s ice sheet, a vast icy landscape crisscrossed by turquoise rivers and dotted with meltwater lakes, a small cluster of orange camping tents popped up in late July. The camp, home for a week to a team of researchers, sat by a large, fast-flowing river.
Just half a mile (a kilometer) downstream, the river dropped into a seemingly bottomless moulin, or sinkhole in the ice. The low rumble of the waters, the shouted instructions from scientists taking measurements, and the chop of the blades of a helicopter delivering personnel and gear were all that was heard in the frozen landscape.
Written by Carol Rasmussen
Pasadena, 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.
Pasadena, CA – Ocean waters melting the undersides of Antarctic ice shelves are responsible for most of the continent’s ice shelf mass loss, a new study by NASA and university researchers has found.
Scientists have studied the rates of basal melt, or the melting of the ice shelves from underneath, of individual ice shelves, the floating extensions of glaciers that empty into the sea. But this is the first comprehensive survey of all Antarctic ice shelves. The study found basal melt accounted for 55 percent of all Antarctic ice shelf mass loss from 2003 to 2008, an amount much higher than previously thought.
Written by Alan Buis
Pasadena, CA – Icebergs are a natural and beautiful part of Earth’s cryosphere, and are closely monitored and studied by scientists around the world.
We asked NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory research scientists Ben Holt and Michael Schodlok to attempt to remove some of the mystery shrouding these floating flotillas of ice.
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