Image via YouTube video
A new combined Earth-Space monitoring system is helping geophysicists and climatologists watch the ice coverage of Greenland and monitor how the ice mass is shifting north. A short video animating the change is startling, and the data also documents for the first time what happens with "crustal uplift" as the heavy ice sheets melt off. Because of the change in surface make-up, the bigger glaciers of the northwest are skidding downhill faster, and the main outlet glaciers are said to have more than doubled their contribution to global sea level rise over the past ten years. Planet Save reports that according to a paper published in Geophysical Research Letters, the measurements come from two sources - the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE), a dual-satellite gravity mission (launched in March 2002), and, continuous Global Positioning System (GPS) measurements from three sites on bedrock adjacent to the ice sheet.
The paper highlights how the new data can be useful for better understanding how the changing ice is affecting other areas:
In addition to showing that the northwest ice sheet margin is now losing mass, the uplift results from both the GPS measurements and the GRACE predictions show rapid acceleration in southeast Greenland in late 2003, followed by a moderate deceleration in 2006. Because that latter deceleration is weak, southeast Greenland still appears to be losing ice mass at a much higher rate than it was prior to fall 2003. In a more general sense, the analysis described here demonstrates that GPS uplift measurements can be used in combination with GRACE mass estimates to provide a better understanding of ongoing Greenland mass loss.
Everything from warmer air currents to reduced winter freezing to warm ocean currents are affecting Greenland's ice, and Greenland's melting ice is affecting other areas of the globe, including sea level rise. With the updated way of monitoring the ice melts and combining data from different sources, researchers can keep a closer eye on the impacts of global warming on Greenland and the arctic north.
More on Greenlance Ice Loss
Greenland Glacier About to Lose Manhattan-sized Ice Chunk (Video)
Dramatic Ice Loss May Get the Headlines, But 72% of Greenland's Ice Melt Comes From Small Glaciers Researchers Say
Subtropical Water Melting Greenland Glaciers from Within