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Riled Up is a journal of science, the environment, exploration, new technology, and related commentary.  Contributors include scientists, explorers, engineers, and others who provide perspectives and context not typically offered in general news circulation.  For interested readers, additional resources are included.

The Conservation Alliance

Data Animations

Data Animations

 

Palmerland and the Antarctic Peninsula Map (credit: Wikicommons)

 

When you long-term, continuous sets of ice measurements, the best way to visualize any changes is to animate the data.

NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) have been studying ice flows on Greenland and Antarctica for more than two decades using satellite radar and ice models. Radar is well suited for environmental monitoring of polar regions which are prone to bad weather conditions and long periods of darkness. Remote sensing scanners can gather the required ice data and other information regardless those conditions, clouds, or time of day. A description of some of the ongoing research was summarized in a NASA video report.

Additionally, the European Space Agency (ESA) acquired the data from the Antarctic Peninsula with their Envisat satellite and Sentinel-1 satellites. Glaciers on the peninsula were measured to move up by 11 inches/day in some locations or the equivalent of an average 13% increase in flow speeds across the study area. Ice flows increased in Palmerland an average of 13% where blue indicates slower movement and red zones faster over the satellite surveyed area.

 

 

     Palmerland ice flower, 2014-2016 (credit: Sentinel-1)

Satellite data was combined with an ice-flow model to fill gaps where data was unavailable. This approach allowed an estimation that the glaciers’ speed had increased the discharge of 3.5 cubic miles of ice/year into the surrounding Antarctic Ocean. The space agency said:

“circumpolar deep water, is relatively warm and salty compared to other parts of the Southern Ocean, has warmed in recent decades, and can melt ice at the base of glaciers which reduces friction and allows them to flow more freely. With much of Western Palmerland’s ice mass lying below sea level it is important to monitor how remote areas such as this are responding to further warming in the region due to climate change."

You are likely to see even faster ice-flows and water being discharged from Greenland and Antarctica in the coming years.

WHB

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