Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

NASA Scientists Detect Rapid Thinning Of Greenland's Coastal Ice

Date:
July 25, 2000
Source:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Summary:
Scientists who want to monitor the state of our global climate may have to look no farther than the coastal ice that surrounds the Earth's largest island. A NASA study of Greenland's ice sheet reveals that it is rapidly thinning.

Scientists who want to monitor the state of our global climate may have to look no farther than the coastal ice that surrounds the Earth's largest island.

Related Articles


A NASA study of Greenland's ice sheet reveals that it is rapidly thinning. In an article published in the July 21 issue of Science, Bill Krabill, project scientist at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center's Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, VA, reports that the frozen area around Greenland is thinning, in some places, at a rate of more than three feet per year. Any change is important since a smaller ice sheet could result in higher sea levels.

"A conservative estimate, based on our data, indicates a net loss of approximately 51 cubic kilometers of ice per year from the entire ice sheet, sufficient to raise global sea level by 0.005 inches per year, or approximately seven percent of the observed rise," Krabill said.

"This amount of sea level rise does not threaten coastal regions, but these results provide evidence that the margins of the ice sheet are in a process of change," Krabill said. "The thinning cannot be accounted for by increased melting alone. It appears that ice must be flowing more quickly into the sea through glaciers."

Greenland covers 840,000 square miles and 85 percent of the island is covered by ice, some of which is up to two miles thick. With its southern tip protruding into temperate latitudes, monitoring this portion of the ice sheet may be one of the bestways to measure changes in our climate, at least in the Northern Hemisphere.

The ice mapping was completed by NASA, which has been surveying the Greenland ice sheet for nearly seven years. In 1993 and 1994, NASA researchers surveyed the ice sheet using an airborne laser altimeter and precision global positioningsatellite receivers. Those same areas were surveyed again in 1998 and 1999.

Now, for the first time, portions of the entire ice sheet covering Greenland have been mapped with sufficient accuracy to detect significant changes in elevation.

Krabill noted that while some internal areas of Greenland show slight ice thickening, most areas along the coast show significant thinning. "Why the ice margins are thinning so rapidly warrants additional study," according to Krabill. "It may indicate that the coastal margins of ice sheets are capable of responding more rapidly than we thought to external changes, such as a warming climate."

"For the first time, we are seeing evidence that one of the two great ice bodies on the Earth (the other is the Antarctic ice sheet) is contributing, in a modest fashion, to observed sea level rise," said Dr. Ghassem Asrar, Associate Administrator for NASA's Office of Earth Science. "NASA's ICESat spacecraft, which is scheduled for launch in 2001, will allow us to make similar measurements routinely and keep an eye on both Antarctica and Greenland."

The Office of Earth Science, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC sponsors the Greenland ice mapping project. NASA's Office of Earth Sciences studies long-term climate trends to learn how human-induced and natural changes affect our global environment.

Further information on the Greenland mapping project, including the technology behind the science, is available at:

http://aol.wff.nasa.gov/aoltm.html

Imagery supporting this story is available at: http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/imagewall/greenland.html

More information about the Office of Earth Sciences can be found at: http://www.earth.nasa.gov


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "NASA Scientists Detect Rapid Thinning Of Greenland's Coastal Ice." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 July 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/07/000725080351.htm>.
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. (2000, July 25). NASA Scientists Detect Rapid Thinning Of Greenland's Coastal Ice. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 5, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/07/000725080351.htm
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "NASA Scientists Detect Rapid Thinning Of Greenland's Coastal Ice." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/07/000725080351.htm (accessed March 5, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Keurig Co-Founder Says Company Has A Waste Problem

Keurig Co-Founder Says Company Has A Waste Problem

Newsy (Mar. 5, 2015) Keurig co-founder John Sylvan told The Atlantic he doesn&apos;t even own a Keurig because they&apos;re too expensive and produce too much waste. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Tourists Visit Rare Grey Whales in Mexico

Raw: Tourists Visit Rare Grey Whales in Mexico

AP (Mar. 4, 2015) Once nearly extinct, grey whales now migrate in their thousands to Mexico&apos;s Vizcaino reserve in Baja California, in search of warmer waters to mate and give birth. Tourists flock to the reserve to see the whales, measuring up to 49 feet long. (March 4) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Injured Miners Treated After Blast

Raw: Injured Miners Treated After Blast

AP (Mar. 4, 2015) An explosion ripped through a coal mine before dawn Wednesday in war-torn eastern Ukraine, killing at least one miner, officials said. Graphic video of injured miners being treated in a Donetsk hospital. (March 4) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Australian Museum Shares Terrifying Goblin Shark With the World

Australian Museum Shares Terrifying Goblin Shark With the World

Buzz60 (Mar. 4, 2015) The Australian Museum has taken in its fourth-ever goblin shark, a rare fish with an electricity-sensing snout and &apos;alien-like&apos; jaw. Mike Janela (@mikejanela) takes a look. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins