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NASA: First Map Of Thawed Areas Under Greenland Ice Sheet

Aug 05, 2016 04:45 AM EDT

NASA used its innovative equipment to create a one-of-a-kind map to show the condition of the underground portion of the Greenland ice sheets and its temperature called basal state.

Researchers helped the experts on climate change in producing the map, a first of its kind, to show the melted part underneath the Greenland ice sheet. The map will help researchers better understand how the ice sheet behaves and reacts in relation to climate change.

Experts say that the bedrock serves as insulation so the bottom parts of the ice sheets are usually warmer than the cold temperature of the top and upper layers. The heat from the Earth's core warms up the bottom of the ice sheets causing it to melt.

It is essential to identify the current state of the ice sheet, whether it Is anchored on solid ground, or is on top of the wet, slippery or dry layer to predict the future behavior of the ice sheet and how the ice will melt and flow. But despite rigorous efforts, scientists have a very few direct findings of the state of the lower portion of the ice sheets coming from boreholes that reached the bottom. But a new study combines many different methods to identify which areas are thawed or frozen; this paved the way for the creation of the new map.

"We're ultimately interested in understanding how the ice sheet flows and how it will behave in the future," Joe MacGregor, lead author of the study and a glaciologist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center said in a press release. "If the ice at its bottom is at the melting point temperature, or thawed, then there could be enough liquid water there for the ice to flow faster and affect how quickly it responds to climate change," MacGregor added.

The recent study is published in the Journal of Geophysical Research -Earth Surface. They examined information from eight computer models of the ice sheet and studied the layers of ice sheet itself to identify which parts are melting and also to be able to predict temperatures. Researchers also used the data gathered by NASA Operation IceBridge radar, according to Engadget.

After producing the map, scientists and researchers found out that the southwestern and northeastern areas are already thawed. And they wanted more information to understand the ice sheets better.


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