Scientists create a 3-D map showing the age of the Greenland ice sheet.
Greenland is the second largest mass of ice on Earth, containing enough water to raise ocean levels by about 20 feet. The ice sheet has been losing mass over the past two decades and warming temperatures will mean more losses in the future. Since 2009, a NASA airborne mission called Operation IceBridge has surveyed Greenland using a variety of instruments including radar and laser altimeters to measure the internal layering of its ice and changes to the ice sheet’s thickness. Now, the radar data has been combined with observations from ground-based surveys and earlier airborne missions to create the first comprehensive map of layers deep inside the ice sheet. The map reveals how the ice sheet’s layers formed in response to periods of climate change dating back to more than a hundred thousand years ago when temperatures were roughly as warm as today. Scientists will use the information to help evaluate models that project Greenland’s future contribution to sea-level rise. Watch the video to learn more.