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NASA MISSION CHECKS HEALTH OF GREENLAND’S ICE SHEET AND GLACIERS

Earth Observatory – May 30, 2007

This is an article about NASA’s recent trip to Greenland to check on the “health” of the glaciers that cover much of that island. This is a regular activity of these scientists as it allows us to monitor the thickness and the flow of the main glaciers. This year they also added new devices to their repertoire.

A NASA-led research team has returned from Greenland after an annual three-week mission to check the health of its glaciers and ice sheet. About 82 percent of Greenland is made up of a giant ice sheet.


The science team, using laser and radar instruments aboard aircraft, has been closely monitoring the changes in the ice cover since 1991. Past measurements from the team have shown that areas of ice along the Greenland coast have been thinning while inland areas have thickened.


The data from past mapping missions and from Earth-orbiting satellites such as NASA’s ICESat spacecraft has shown that the ice sheet and glaciers have been melting at an increasing rate over the past several years.


Some of the island’s major glaciers have sped up since the turn of the century, with documented thinning from 65 to nearly 100 feet per year.

To read more of this article especially to learn about some of the new techniques that are being used, click here.

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