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NASA studying Greenland's ice sheet loss

NASA studying Greenland's ice sheet loss

by KGW Meteorologist Rod Hill

Bio | Email | Follow: @kgwrodhill

kgw.com

Posted on May 12, 2014 at 11:13 PM

Updated Tuesday, May 13 at 10:31 AM

NASA's Operation IceBridge is leading new research to better learn the mechanics in play as Greenland's ice sheet continues to lose mass.

Scientists are using satellite observations and ice thickness measurements to calculate the rate at which ice flows through Greenland's glaciers into the ocean. 

Ice sheets grow when snow accumulates and is compacted into ice. They lose mass when ice and snow as the surface melts and runs off and when glaciers at the coast discharge ice into the ocean. 

The difference between yearly snowfall on an ice sheet and the sum of melting and discharge is called the "mass budget."  Since roughly 2006, surface melt has been increasing and now exceeds iceberg production. 

In recent years, computer model projections have shown an increasing dominance of surface melt.  Increased data points should help computer forecasts in the years ahead to better predict the rate of glacial ice loss.

Click to read more from Operation IceBridge

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