News / USA

NASA Researchers Study Polar Ice in Greenland

Map of Greenland's ice
Map of Greenland's ice

NASA scientists say tracking changes in polar ice can help them better predict changes in climate and sea level.  NASA's Operation IceBridge mission - the largest-ever airborne survey of the Earth's polar ice - kicked off its second year of study this week.

Scientists and a NASA aircraft equipped with a variety of science instruments began this phase of the mission in Thule, Greenland.  For the next two and a half months, researchers will survey Arctic sea ice, ice sheets and glaciers to see the ways the ice is changing.

John Sonntag is a scientist and member of the Operation IceBridge management team.  He says the operation provides a great deal of knowledge about Greenland and Antarctica - two regions he says are key to better understanding the planet's climate.

"A lot of scientists believe that climate change will first show up at the polar region, so if they were to start to melt, which many people believe they are, then the eventual effect would be a warmer climate overall," said John Sonntag.

Scientists can track changes in the extent and thickness of polar ice by comparing their new findings with the information they gathered this time last year, during the first mission of Operation IceBridge.

Sometimes people use the phrase "glacial pace" to describe something that moves very slowly.  But Bryan Blair, of Goddard Space Flight Center near Washington, says glacial regions are actually very dynamic because a lot of ice is moving and there are many vertical changes.

"We can map that entire area and capture the full spacial variability of that change, which is really a good indication of the mechanics of how that change is happening," said Bryan Blair.

NASA's DC-8 aircraft
NASA's DC-8 aircraft


NASA's nearly 50-meter-long DC-8 aircraft uses lasers to measure changes in the surface elevation of polar ice.  The lasers are reflected from the ground back to the aircraft, and these readings are converted into elevation maps.  

The DC-8 is the largest aircraft in NASA's airborne science fleet.  It is expected to spend about 200 hours in the skies over Greenland during March and early April.  A smaller aircraft will make additional flights in late April and May.   

In October and November, Operation IceBridge will survey Antarctica.  NASA says glaciers and ice sheets in the Antarctic hold about 90 percent of the Earth's freshwater.   

This operation is called IceBridge because its annual missions are meant to bridge the gap until the launch of the second Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite, which is set for 2015.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid