NASA scientists fly over Greenland to track melting ice

The giant frozen island has seen one of its biggest melts on record this year. | @AP

22.8.2019

The giant frozen island has seen one of its biggest melts on record this year. | AP

Greenland contains enough ice to make world sea levels rise by 20 feet if it were all to melt. In a single day this month, it lost a record 13.7 billion tons (12.5 billion metric tons) by one estimate.

Willis’ project — called Oceans Melting Greenland, or OMG — is showing that it is. Now the question is how much and how fast.

To measure this, NASA is spending five years crisscrossing the island in a tricked-out 77-year-old DC-3 built for World War II. Willis, project manager Ian McCubbin and mechanic Rich Gill drop long, cylindrical probes through a special tube in the floor of the plane, watching as the sensors parachute down and then dive into the chilly water.

Meanwhile, pilots Andy Ferguson and Don Watrous bank the plane toward the blue-green spots, looking for the next target and pointing out stunning giant icebergs and signs of glacial retreat over the radio.

Just how crucial seawater is to melting was illustrated, somewhat paradoxically, by the Jakobshavn glacier, the fast-shrinking glacier on Greenland’s more populated west coast. In recent years, it suddenly started to grow a bit, probably because of a cooling of waters as a result of a temporary shift in weather and water-current patterns, Willis said.

A 2019 study by Danish climate scientist Ruth Mottram looked at 28 glaciers in Greenland with long-term data. Nearly all are melting, with only one or two that could be considered somewhat stable.

It will take centuries for all of Greenland’s massive ice sheet to melt, but how fast is the key question. If warm water plays a bigger role than scientists suspect, by the year 2100, Greenland alone could cause 3 or 4 feet (more than 1 meter) of sea level rise, Willis said.

Read more: Inquirer

AP Sad news and it is very alarming. This will have a domino effect in our environment and the worsening condition of the planet. What should be done

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