OMG, the water's warm! NASA study solves glacier puzzle

phys.org | 6/22/2018 | Staff
magiccastlemagiccastle (Posted by) Level 4
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A new NASA study explains why the Tracy and Heilprin glaciers, which flow side by side into Inglefield Gulf in northwest Greenland, are melting at radically different rates.

Using ocean data from NASA's Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) campaign, the study documents a plume of warm water flowing up Tracy's underwater face, and a much colder plume in front of Heilprin. Scientists have assumed plumes like these exist for glaciers all around Greenland, but this is the first time their effects have been measured.

Finding - Role - Oceans - Ice - Loss

The finding highlights the critical role of oceans in glacial ice loss and their importance for understanding future sea level rise. A paper on the research was published June 21 in the journal Oceanography.

Tracy and Heilprin were first observed by explorers in 1892 and have been measured sporadically ever since. Even though the adjoining glaciers experience the same weather and ocean conditions, Heilprin has retreated upstream less than 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) in 125 years, while Tracy has retreated more than 9.5 miles (15 kilometers). That means Tracy is losing ice almost four times faster than its next-door neighbor.

Kind - Puzzle - OMG - Campaign - Loss

This is the kind of puzzle OMG was designed to explain. The five-year campaign is quantifying ice loss from all glaciers that drain the Greenland Ice Sheet with an airborne survey of ocean and ice conditions around the entire coastline, collecting data through 2020. OMG is making additional boat-based measurements in areas where the seafloor topography and depths are inadequately known.

About a decade ago, NASA's Operation IceBridge used ice-penetrating radar to document a major difference between the glaciers: Tracy is seated on bedrock at a depth of about 2,000 feet (610 meters) below the ocean surface, while Heilprin extends only 1,100 feet (350 meters) beneath the waves.

Scientists - Difference - Melt - Rates - Ocean

Scientists would expect this difference to affect the melt rates, because the top ocean layer...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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