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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

OMG Scans Greenland Glaciers

OMG Scans Greenland Glaciers

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Sunday, November 5, 2017/Categories: natural history, space science, sustainability, environment, adventure , climate change

3D Cosatal Image of NW Greenland with Ocean Bathymetry (blue) and Ice Surface (white and orange) (credit: UCI)

Greenland's ice cap and glaciers are being surveyed by NASA's Ocean Melting Greenland (OMG) project. OMG provides for estimates of sea level rise due to climate change in the Arctic by addressing a critical question: To what extent are the oceans melting Greenland’s ice from below? The 5-year airborne surveys will measure effects of changing water temperatures on the continental ice-shelf surrounding Greenland. They will also determine how coastal glaciers react to north Atlantic waters and determine the extent the warmer water reaches into the island's long fjords and affects the glaciers. Some initial findings have just been published by Geophysical Research Letters.

According to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and UC Irvine who analysed the early OMG data, topographic maps revealed the coastal seafloor and bedrock beneath Greenland's ice and: "show that two to four times as many coastal glaciers are at risk of accelerated melting as previously thought". The new maps are the first comprehensive, accurate, and high-resolution topographic impressions ever made of Greenland’s bedrock and seafloor. The researchers continued:

"What made OMG surveys unique is that we got right into the fjords, as close as possible to the glacier fronts, a big help for bedrock mapping. Additionally, the campaign surveyed large sections of the Greenland coast for the first time ever."

                                                                 Greenland Bedrock Topography Maps (credit: JPL)

The data was gathered by an especially equipped aircraft using an interferometer to generate high resolution and precision elevation measurements of Greenland’s coastal glaciers. Repeated yearly scans will determine the extent of thinning or retreat over the previous season. Each summer, a second campaign will deploy temperature and salinity probes to measure the volume and extent of warm Atlantic water moving in and under Greenland's coastal glaciers.

The timing of this new information on Greenland's ice dynamics is critical. NOAA has just released an animation showing the history of atmospheric CO2 levels gathered from ice cores that stretches back 800,000 before present up through January, 2016. Atmospheric CO2 now sits above 400ppm.

The last time the CO2 concentration was that high, modern humans didn't exist, and sea levels were ~18-30 feet higher than they are today. Greenland was also ice free and covered in forests. OMG is a proper exclamation for the new ice  analysis from JPL, NASA, UC Irvine, and all the other scientific researchers.



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