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article imageNASA's 'OMG Mission' - Greenland's glaciers are melting fast

By Karen Graham     Jun 28, 2017 in Environment
Due to climate change, glaciers in Greenland are melting faster than previously thought. A new video released today by NASA shows how the agency is keeping track of the magnitude of the changes occurring in the Arctic, now being measured in feet per day.
In May, a study published online documented evidence of waves rippling through Greenland's Rink Glacier, an outlet glacier to the sea on the island's west coast. The NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory study also found that meltwater loss was extensive.
And because one of the 21st century's major environmental challenges will be sea level rise, NASA has begun a project called Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG). The main purpose of this operation will be to study exactly how fast warm ocean waters are melting Greenland's glaciers from below, and that's the big problem, the melting has accelerated.
Rink Glacier in western Greenland  with a meltwater lake visible center. The gigantic solitary wave ...
Rink Glacier in western Greenland, with a meltwater lake visible center. The gigantic solitary wave dented the bedrock underneath the ice sheet.
NASA/JPL
NASA's five-year project will observe changing water temperatures on the continental shelf surrounding Greenland, and how marine glaciers react to the presence of warm, salty Atlantic Water. Right now, as seen in the NASA video, the melting is taking place at a rate of several feet a day during the summer months due to the warm ocean currents sweeping across the glaciers' surfaces, eroding them from below, reports Live Science.
NASA’s G-III to fly the GLISTIN-A
NASA's Operation Ice Bridge project has been flying over both the Arctic and Antarctic regions for the past eight years, providing some astounding and unprecedented three-dimensional views of the polar regions, providing scientists with valuable data on how polar ice is changing in a warming world.
NASA technicians putting the final touches on the GLISTIN-A instrument being installed on one of NAS...
NASA technicians putting the final touches on the GLISTIN-A instrument being installed on one of NASA's Gulfstream-III aircraft. Photo taken in the hangar at Armstrong Flight Research Center on March 15, 2016.
NASA/JPL
But come this spring, NASA will begin OMG using the agency's Gulfstream G-III, and will be using something called a Glacier and Ice Surface Topography Interferometer (GLISTin-A). GLISTIN-A will generate high resolution, high precision elevation measurements of Greenland’s coastal glaciers as well as provide measurements of glacial thinning and retreat over preceding seasons.
Additionally, using the same NASA aircraft, the G-III, during the summer Operation Ice Bridge campaign, they will deploy 250 expendable temperature and salinity probes along the continental shelf to measure the volume, extent, and warmth of the salty Atlantic Water.
The diagram represents a typical glacier in Greenland. Below the cold  fresh layer near the surface ...
The diagram represents a typical glacier in Greenland. Below the cold, fresh layer near the surface a layer of warm, salty water reaches into the fjords to melt the glacier's edge. OMG will measure the volume and extent of this warm layer each year and relate it to thinning and retreat of the glaciers.
NASA/JPL
All this work, in addition to aerial observations, marine gravity, ship-based observations, and imagery sent back from NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites, will give scientists a better look at the geometry of the sea floor and the the two major basins into which the North Polar Basin of the Arctic Ocean is split by the Lomonosov Ridge.
Large volumes of data on Arctic sea and land ice has been collected by NASA over the last nine years. There have also been some scientific discoveries, including the first map showing what parts of the bottom of the massive Greenland Ice Sheet are thawed, to improvements in snowfall accumulation models for all of Greenland.
More about OMG Mission, NASA, Greenland, Glaciers melting, arctic warming
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