Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Remote sensing to study Greenland ice

U.S. scientists have documented, for the first time, the dynamics of parts of Greenland's ice sheet using remote sensing and digital imaging.

The University at Buffalo researchers said their findings represent important data that have long been missing from the ice sheet models on which projections about sea level rise and global warming are based.

Traditionally, ice sheet models are very simplified, said Assistant Professor Beata Csatho, lead author of the research. "Ice sheet models usually don't include all the complexity of ice dynamics that can happen in nature. This research will give ice sheet modelers more precise, more detailed data.

"If current climate models … included data from ice dynamics in Greenland, the sea level rise estimated during this century could be twice as high as what they are currently projecting," she said.

The researchers, among other things, found two different parts of the same glacier can behave quite differently and that a glacier does not necessarily react to climate change as a single, monolithic entity.

The study that included scientists from Ohio State University, the University of Kansas and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration appears in the online edition of the Journal of Glaciology.

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