NASA Radar Maps Winter Pace of Iceland’s Glaciers

A high-precision radar instrument from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., left Southern California for Iceland Tuesday to create detailed maps of how glaciers move in the dead of winter. This will help scientists better understand some of the most basic processes involved in melting glaciers, which are major contributors to rising sea levels.

The JPL-developed instrument, which flies on a NASA research aircraft, departed from NASA’s Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif.  The experiment is led by Mark Simons, a professor of geophysics at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, and Brent Minchew, a Caltech graduate student.

Simons and Minchew used the same airborne instrument in June 2012 to map the summer flows of two Icelandic ice caps. The ice caps — large areas of permanent snow and ice cover — encompass multiple glaciers flowing in different directions and at different speeds.

Read the rest of the story by Carol Rasmussen here.

A small part of the Hofsjökull ice cap in Iceland, which encompasses several glaciers. The fan at upper left is part of a glacier called Múlajökull. Image Credit: Caltech