NASA scientist Josh Willis, project manager Ian McCubbin and mechanic Rich Gill are flying a DC-3 over the glaciers of Greenland to figure out exactly how global warming is affecting the ice.
Willis wants to know whether the melting ice is a result of warm air or warm seawater. If his theory that much of the damage is from the water, then it is possible that Greenland will melt much faster than expected. The team is using cylindrical probes that are pushed out through a special tube in the floor of the plane. The sensors then parachute down and dive into the water.
It is both fascinating and intimidating to know that if all the ice in Greenland melts, it could make world sea levels rise by 20 feet.
The data from a $2,000 probe recently dropped in the water near Kangerlussuaq reported that the temperature hasn’t changed much over the last year or so. Although that may seem like good news, there will be other incoming data from the other probes that will need to be considered before we start to celebrate. In fact, in the last few years, the data hasn’t been very comforting.
Willis stated that if warm water plays a bigger role than scientists suspect, by the year 2100, Greenland alone could cause 3 or 4 feet (more than 1 meter) of sea level rise. While Ted Scambos from the University of Colorado stated that Greenland’s contribution to sea level rise by 2100 would probably be closer to 1 foot (30 centimeters).
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