Monday May 29, 2017

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Video of the week

Documenting the decline

Nasa scientists are bouncing lasers off polar ice to give themselves a better understanding of the global climate system

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Few of our readers will be unaware that scientists this week raised the alarm about collapsing Antarctic glaciers.

(In case you missed it, read about it here – then come back to this page.)

Among the data and other imagery the scientists based their findings was the work of IceBridge, a Nasa mission that is deeply engaged in determining the health of the world’s polar ice, both in the Arctic and Antartic.

According to the programme website: “IceBridge, a six-year Nasa mission, is the largest airborne survey of Earth’s polar ice ever flown. It will yield an unprecedented three-dimensional view of Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets, ice shelves and sea ice. These flights will provide a yearly, multi-instrument look at the behavior of the rapidly changing features of Earth’s polar ice.”

How do they do this? Well, among other things by flying really low (1,500 feet) and while firing 3,000 laser pulses per second at the ground below.

The current IceBridge mission brings the team to Greenland, where it wraps up its work later this month.

Check out what they are up to and how they work in this week’s Video of the Week.