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NASA to intensify focus on Earth’s frozen regions

Together the two missions will make critical, complementary measurements of Earth's glaciers and ice sheets, NASA said. Both missions will also make other key observations

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NASA to research more about Earth's frozen surfaces. IANS
  • NASA to conduct more research about Earth’s frozen surfaces
  • It will enhance their understanding of Earth’s ice sheets, glaciers, sea ice, snow cover and permafrost
  • NASA will launch two new satellite missions for this purpose

To enhance understanding of Earth’s ice sheets, glaciers, sea ice, snow cover and permafrost, NASA will launch two new satellite missions and conduct an array of field research in 2018, the US space agency said on Tuesday.

These missions come at a time when decades of observations from the ground, air and space have revealed signs of change in these frozen regions of our planet, called the “cryosphere.”

NASA to release two missions focused on moon soon in 2022. Pixabay
NASA will conduct research by launching two new satellite missions. Pixabay

Ongoing changes with the cryosphere, while often occurring in remote regions, have impacts on people all around the world — sea level rise affects coastlines globally, more than a billion people rely on water from snowpack, and the diminishing sea ice that covers the Arctic Ocean plays a significant role in Earth’s climate and weather patterns.

This spring, NASA and the German Research Centre for Geosciences are scheduled to launch the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) mission, twin satellites that will continue the original GRACE mission’s legacy of tracking fluctuations in Earth’s gravity field in order to detect changes in mass, including the mass of ice sheets and aquifers.

Also Read: Jupiter’s Great Red Spot grows taller: NASA

And in autumn, NASA is scheduled to launch the Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2), which will use a highly advanced laser instrument to measure the changing elevation of ice around the world, providing a view of the height of Earth’s ice with greater detail than previously possible.

This ice which was found can help scientists understand the climate history of Mars. IANS
It will also help scientists understand about Cryosphere. IANS

Together the two missions will make critical, complementary measurements of Earth’s glaciers and ice sheets, NASA said. Both missions will also make other key observations. For instance, GRACE-FO will measure groundwater reserves and deep ocean currents and ICESat-2 will measure sea ice thickness and vegetation height. NASA research shows that permafrost — permanently frozen ground in the Arctic that contains heat-trapping gases such as methane and carbon dioxide — is thawing at faster rates now than scientists have observed before. IANS

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Greenland’s Ice Melting Faster Than Expected: Study

Researchers say the accelerated ice loss is caused by a combination of global warming, as well as the North Atlantic oscillation.

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Greenland
The Greenland ice sheet is seen in southeastern Greenland, Aug. 3, 2017. VOA

Ice in Greenland is melting faster than previously thought, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study found that most of Greenland’s rapid ice depletion is from a surprising source — land that is largely devoid of glaciers.

The land in question is from Greenland’s ice sheet itself, which is 10,000 feet thick in places.

Scientists previously focused most of their studies on Greenland’s glaciers, in the southeast and northwest regions of the country, and found that the glaciers have increasingly been dislodging chucks into the ocean.

However, scientists in the newly published study say they realize there is another major source of ice melt, in the country’s southwest region, which is mostly devoid of large glaciers.

Greenland
FILE – An iceberg is seen melting off the coast of Ammasalik, Greenland, July 19, 2007. VOA

They say this suggests that the surface ice is simply melting as global temperatures rise.

“We knew we had one big problem with increasing rates of ice discharge by some large outlet glaciers,” said Michael Bevis, lead author of the paper and a professor of geodynamics at Ohio State University. “But now we recognize a second serious problem — increasingly, large amounts of ice mass are going to leave as meltwater, as rivers that flow into the sea.”

Researchers say the ice rate loss across Greenland has increased four-fold since 2003, which they say will lead to a greater sea level rise.

In the 20th century, Greenland has lost around 9,000 billion tons of ice in total, causing about 25 millimeters (1 inch) of sea level rise, according to National Geographic.

Scientists say if all of Greenland’s vast ice sheet were to melt, global sea levels would rise by 7 meters (23 feet) , flooding most coastal developments around the world.

Personnel stand aboard the Finnish icebreaker MSV Nordica as it arrives into Nuuk, Greenland, after traversing the Northwest Passage through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, July 29, 2017.
Personnel stand aboard the Finnish icebreaker MSV Nordica as it arrives into Nuuk, Greenland, after traversing the Northwest Passage through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, July 29, 2017. VOA

The latest study used data from NASA satellites, as well as GPS stations across Greenland, to analyze changes in ice mass.

Also Read: New Technology That Can Clean Water Twice As of Now

Researchers say the accelerated ice loss is caused by a combination of global warming, as well as the North Atlantic oscillation, a periodic weather phenomenon that brings warmer air to western Greenland.

Greenland’s much larger neighbor, the Antarctic ice sheet, is also losing ice faster than previously thought, according to a recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. That study, published earlier this month, found that Antarctic melting has raised global sea levels 1.4 centimeters between 1979 and 2017. (VOA)