An animation showing “sea level fingerprints,” or patterns of rising and falling sea levels across the globe in response to changes in Earth’s gravitational and rotational fields. Major changes in water mass can cause localized bumps and dips in gravity, sometimes with counterintuitive effects. Melting glaciers, for example, actually cause nearby sea level to drop; as they lose mass, their gravitational pull slackens, and sea water migrates away. In this animation, computed from data gathered by the twin GRACE satellites between April 2002 and March 2015, sea level is dropping around rapidly melting Greenland (orange, yellow). But near coastlines at a sufficient distance, the added water causes sea levels to rise (blue). The computational method is described in Adhikari et al. (2016, Geoscientific Model Development). And, these solutions are presented in Adhikari and Ivins (2016, Science Advances).
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.