At Glacial Speed

  • Released Monday, March 13th, 2017
  • Updated Wednesday, May 3rd, 2023 at 1:47PM
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Glaciers and ice sheets move in unique and sometimes surprising patterns, as evidenced by a new capability that uses satellite images to map the speed of flowing ice in Greenland, Antarctica and mountain ranges around the world. With imagery and data from Landsat 8, a joint mission of NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey, scientists are providing a near-real-time view of every large glacier and ice sheet on Earth. Researchers aim to better understand how ice flow is changing worldwide by integrating information about atmosphere and ocean conditions to determine what causes these ice sheets to change – and what that means for how much ice is flowing into the ocean. That could help provide critical information to coastal communities that will be most impacted by sea level rise. The Heimdal glacier in Southeast Greenland shown here can travel more than 33 feet (10 meters) per day in early summer and less than 20 feet (6 meters) per day by October. Watch the video to learn more.

Landsat 8 imagery taken 16 days apart uses changes in the texture of the Heimdal glacier's surface to determine its speed.

Landsat 8 imagery taken 16 days apart uses changes in the texture of the Heimdal glacier's surface to determine its speed.

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Credits

Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio.

Photo of Heimdal glacier courtesy of NASA/John Sonntag.


Missions

This visualization is related to the following missions:

Datasets used in this visualization

  • RADARSAT-1

    ID: 87
    Collected with SAR 2000-2013

    Credit: Additional credit goes to Canadian Space Agency, RADARSAT International Inc.

    See all pages that use this dataset
  • GIMP Greenland DEM (Greenland Mapping Project (GIMP) Digital Elevation Model)

    ID: 746
    Data Compilation Courtesy of Ian Howat, OSU 2003-2009
  • Landsat-8 GoLIVE (Global Land Ice Velocity)

    ID: 964
    Analysis Oct. 2013 - Oct. 2016

    Credit: Mark Fahnstock (Univ. of Alaska), Twila Moon (Univ. of Bristol), Ted Scambos (Univ. of Colorado/NSIDC), Marin Klinger (Univ. of Colorado/NSIDC), Alex Gardner (JPL), Terry Haran (Univ. of Colorado/NSIDC)

    See all pages that use this dataset

Note: While we identify the data sets used in these visualizations, we do not store any further details, nor the data sets themselves on our site.