The first-ever such survey will be conducted using survey instruments on a C-130 research aircraft that flew from Wallops Island, Va., to Greenland Wednesday, the space agency reported. Survey flights will be conducted through Nov. 16, to collect data that will improve understanding of seasonal melt and provide baseline measurements for future satellite missions, officials said.
The data gathered will give researchers a more comprehensive view of seasonal changes and provide context for measurements to be gathered during NASA's ICESat-2 satellite mission, scheduled for launch in 2016, they said.
"The more ground we cover the more comparison points we'll have for ICESat-2," Bryan Blair at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., said.
In past years, some glaciers in western Greenland have experienced declines of nearly 100 feet in elevation in a single summer, scientists said.
"Surface melt is more than half of the story for Greenland's mass loss," said Ben Smith of the University of Washington's Advanced Physics Laboratory, a member of the science team selecting flight lines for the aerial survey.
The C-130 will fly out of Thule and Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, scientists said.
"We plan to concentrate our flights on areas northwest, southeast and southwest Greenland and the Arctic Ocean," said Michelle Hofton, mission scientist at Goddard and the University of Maryland. "The measurements we collect along lines sampled in IceBridge's spring 2013 Arctic campaign will allow scientists to assess changes over the summer."
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