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NASA Flyover Shows Melting Ice in Antarctica

Nov 04, 2016 06:41 AM EDT
NASA's Operation IceBridge Maps Changes To Antartica's Ice Mass
NASA IceBridge released images of melting ice in the Antarctic region showing the alarming retreat of ice in the area.
(Photo : Mario Tama/Getty Images)

NASA is using its fleet of satellites and equipment to monitor weather activities on Earth including the rate of melting ice in the Antarctica. The agency released a dramatic set of images showing the rapid melting of ice sheets that are alarming experts worldwide.

The South Pole is losing a lot of ice sheets and NASA has captured the alarming rate that the ice is melting. Operation Icebridge is a program run by NASA for the last eight years to monitor the South Pole and the changes in the condition of polar ice sheets.

NASA IceBridge has been providing vital data in the monitoring of climate change for the past several years. In 2014, it had revealed that the loss of ice in the South Pole had already reached an alarming and 'irreversible' level. IceBridge is devoted to monitoring the changing polar environment and to record the changes that occurred throughout the years.

To further investigate the damage and to continue its observation in the region, NASA IceBridge conducted a 12-hour flight in West Antarctic that started on Oct. 19. NASA IceBrige will monitor the Antarctic during the melting season. After the flyby, NASA released the images taken from the mission. Just looking at the photographs gives experts an easy way to assess the loss and damages.

Due to extreme warming of the planet Earth, the Antarctic is estimated to be losing about 83 gigatons (91.5 billion US tons) of ice every year. "This year, we'll mostly repeat our usual flight lines for sea ice, which have been proven to give us good coverage of the sea ice cover in the Weddell and Bellingshausen seas," Nathan Kurtz, IceBridge's project scientist and also a sea ice researcher at Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Centre said in a statement.

This year's flyby is more comprehensive since the mission used its DC-8 flying space laboratory capable of carrying its full scientific suite compared to smaller planes that have been used in previous missions.

To conduct the observation, IceBridge used its main tool, the laser altimeter to record changes when it comes to the height of the ice sheets and comparing it with data from previous years.

Meanwhile, another study by the University of California coincides with IceBridge's findings saying that the West Antarctic is facing the 'fastest glacier retreat' ever recorded.


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