Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Nasa’s ICESat-2

Topics Covered:

  1. Awareness in space.

 

Nasa’s ICESat-2

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Features, objectives and significance of ICESat- 2, melting of ice- reasons and concerns.

 

Context: NASA’s ICESat-2 — launched less than three months ago — has mapped melting ice sheets in Antarctica and the resulting sea level rise across the globe, which could help improve climate forecasts.

  • The satellite is measuring the height of sea ice to within an inch, tracing the terrain of previously unmapped Antarctic valleys, surveying remote ice sheets, and peering through forest canopies and shallow coastal waters.
  • With each pass of the ICESat-2 satellite, the mission is adding to datasets tracking Earth’s rapidly changing ice. Researchers are ready to use the information to study sea level rise resulting from melting ice sheets and glaciers, and to improve sea ice and climate forecasts.

 

Background:

As the name suggests, ICESat-2 is a follow-on project. The original spacecraft flew in the 2000s and pioneered the laser measurement of the height of polar glaciers and sea-ice from space. But the mission was plagued by technical problems that limited its observations to just a couple of months in every year.

 

About ICESat- 2 mission:

  • ICESat-2 will measure the average annual elevation change of land ice covering Greenland and Antarctica to within the width of a pencil, capturing 60,000 measurements every second.
  • ICESat-2’s Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS) measures height by timing how long it takes individual light photons to travel from the spacecraft to Earth and back.

 

Why is this mission important?

Antarctica and Greenland lose billions of tonnes of ice every year – the result largely of warm water being able to melt land glaciers where they meet the ocean. This wastage is slowly but surely pushing up sea-levels worldwide.

 

Mains Question: Discuss the factors that are aggravating melting of ice in the Arctic and other ice regions. In your opinion, what kind of response is needed to deal with climate change consequences?

Sources: the hindu.