Earth  ID: 10880

Greenland's Vanishing Ice

The fringe of the Greenland ice sheet endures an annual freeze-and-thaw cycle. Plunging temperatures and ample snow in fall and winter replenish the massive ice sheet, which covers 80 percent of the country's landmass. Endless sun in spring and summer melt ice at the surface and the meltwater runs off through the country's rocky edges to the oceans. This kind of natural cycle allows scientists to observe the impact of climate change over time. Satellites have provided continual monitoring of Greenland's ice cover since 1979. While annual melt patterns vary greatly, three decades of data reveal trends of increasing surface melt and number of melt days, as seen in the first visualization below. The annual Greenland melt also opens a window on one of the most important aspects of science by satellite: With more than one satellite instrument measuring the melt, scientists can compare data to provide a measure of confidence in their observations. In the second visualization, watch how two different satellite datasets created almost mirror-image views of Greenland's ice melt extent in one year.

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Story Credits

Lead Visualizers/Animators:
Cindy Starr (Global Science and Technology, Inc.)
Lori Perkins (NASA/GSFC)

Jefferson Beck (USRA)

Lead Scientists:
Dorothy Hall (NASA/GSFC)
Son Nghiem (NASA/JPL CalTech)
Waleed Abdalati (NASA/GSFC)
Thorsten Markus (NASA/GSFC)
Jay Zwally (NASA/GSFC)
Lora Koenig (NASA/GSFC)

Project Support:
John Sonntag (EGG)

Lead Writer:
Patrick Lynch (Wyle Information Systems)

Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

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