Earth from Space: Kangerlussuaq Glacier

Fri, 14 Jan 2022 01:00:00 GMT
ESA Top News

The Kangerlussuaq Glacier, one of Greenland’s largest tidewater outlet glaciers, is pictured in this...

Meaning 'large fjord' in Greenlandic, the Kangerlussuaq Glacier flows into the head of the Kangerlussuaq Fjord, the second largest fjord in east Greenland.

Remote sensing allows us to monitor ice sheets across the globe and keep track of all calving stages - from rift detection to iceberg breakaway - as well as measure ice cover and drifting icebergs.

At the top of the image, stable ice can be seen in white and is present in all three radar acquisitions.

The different shades of red highlights ice and snow detected only in the first acquisition captured on 4 June.

Colours on the sea surface vary owing to surface currents and sea ice dynamics.

Research using satellite imagery suggests that since 2017, Kangerlussuaq has entered a new phase of rapid retreat and acceleration, and its ice front is now at its most retreated position since the early 20th century.

As global temperatures increase, the melting of the massive ice sheets that blanket Greenland has significantly accelerated, contributing to sea-level rise.

Over the past decade alone, findings have revealed that 3.5 trillion tonnes of ice have melted from the Greenland ice sheet and spilled into the ocean - enough to cover the UK with meltwater 15 m deep.

Using data from ESA's CryoSat mission, the research shows that extreme ice melting events in Greenland have become more frequent and more intense over the past 40 years, raising sea levels and the risk of flooding worldwide.

Observations of Greenland runoff from space can be used to verify how climate models simulate ice sheet melting which will allow improved predictions of how much Greenland will raise the global sea level in the future.

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