Earth  ID: 4001

Ice Flow toward the Petermann Glacier, Greenland

Greenland looks like a big pile of snow seen from space using a regular camera. But satellite radar interferometry helps us detect the motion of ice beneath the snow. Ice starts flowing from the flanks of topographic divides in the interior of the island, and increases in speed toward the coastline where it is channelized along a set of narrow, powerful outlet glaciers. In the east, these glaciers make their sinuous way through complex terrain at low speed. They form long floating extensions that deform slowly in the cold north. As we move toward sectors of higher snowfall in the northwest and centre west, ice flow speeds increase by nearly a factor 10, with many, smaller glaciers flowing straight down to the coastline at several kilometers per year.

This complete description of ice motion was only made possible from the coordinated effort of four space agencies: the Japanese Space Agency, the Canadian Space Agency, the European Space Agency, and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The data will help scientists improve their understanding of the dynamics of ice in Greenland and in projecting how the Greenland Ice Sheet will respond to climate change in the decades and centuries to come.



Visualization Credits

Cindy Starr (GST): Lead Visualizer
Horace Mitchell (NASA/GSFC): Animator
Greg Shirah (NASA/GSFC): Animator
Matthew R. Radcliff (USRA): Producer
Eric J. Rignot (NASA/JPL CalTech): Scientist
Jeremie Mouginot (University of California, Irvine): Scientist
Ian Howat (Ohio State University): Scientist
Ted Scambos (NSIDC): Scientist
Laurence Schuler (ADNET): Project Support
Ian Jones (ADNET): Project Support
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

The topographic data of Greenland is provided courtesy of Ian Howat, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH.

The MOG mosaic (MODIS) is courtesy of T. Scambos, NSDIC, Bouder, CO.

The Blue Marble data is courtesy of Reto Stockli (NASA/GSFC).

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Data Used:
Terra and Aqua/MODIS/Blue Marble: Next Generation 2004
Greenland Mapping Project (GIMP) Digital Elevation Model 2003-2009
Digital Mosaic of Ice Motion in Greenland
Greenland Ice Sheet Velocity
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.

DLESE >> Cryology
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Cryosphere >> Glaciers/Ice Sheets
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Hydrosphere >> Glaciers/Ice Sheets
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Cryosphere >> Glaciers/Ice Sheets >> Glacier Motion/Ice Sheet Motion
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Cryosphere >> Glaciers/Ice Sheets >> Glacier Topography/Ice Sheet Topography
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Cryosphere >> Glaciers/Ice Sheets >> Ice Sheets
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Cryosphere >> Snow/Ice >> Ice Motion
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Cryosphere >> Snow/Ice >> Ice Velocity
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Hydrosphere >> Snow/Ice >> Ice Motion
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Hydrosphere >> Snow/Ice >> Ice Velocity
GCMD >> Location >> Greenland
NASA Science >> Earth

GCMD keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation: Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version