The mass of the Greenland ice sheet has rapidly been declining over the last several years due to surface melting and iceberg calving. Research based on observations from NASA’s twin Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites indicates that between 2003 and 2013, Greenland shed approximately 280 gigatons of ice per year, causing global sea level to rise by 0.8 millimeters per year. These images, created with GRACE data, show changes in Greenland ice mass since 2003. Orange and red shades indicate areas that lost ice mass, while light blue shades indicate areas that gained ice mass. White indicates areas where there has been very little or no change in ice mass since 2003. In general, higher-elevation areas near the center of Greenland experienced little to no change, while lower-elevation and coastal areas experienced up to 3 meters of ice mass loss (dark red) over a 10-year period. The largest mass decreases of up to 30 centimeters per year occurred over southeastern Greenland.
Antarctic Mass Change from GRACE – January 2004 - June 2014
GRACE Mission Measures Global Ice Mass Changes
When a mission exceeds expectations, it’s only reasonable to continue pushing the boundaries of spaceborne engineering and science. GRACE Follow-On carries technological upgrades that should give scientists an even clearer picture of climate change.
For the first time, scientists have detected sea level "fingerprints" – patterns of variation in global sea level due to changes in water and ice on land – in GRACE data.
Airbus tests the dispenser structure that will hold the twin GRACE-FO satellites during their launch.
"With GRACE, we effectively created a new field of spaceborne remote sensing: tracking the movement of water via its mass," said Michael Watkins, the original GRACE project scientist and now director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.
Iridium announces that it has purchased an additional Falcon 9 launch from SpaceX that the satellite services company will share with the GRACE-FO mission.