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Radar views of permanent ice for climate research – DLR research flights over Greenland

22 May 2015

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The Greenland ice sheet is, in places, more than three kilometres thick and a crucial feature in climate modelling. Scientists from the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), together with colleagues from ETH Zurich (Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich), are currently conducting tests of a new radar imaging process in a research flight campaign over Greenland. This technique will allow aerial measurements of three-dimensional snow and ice conditions at depths of up to 50 metres.

"In the long term, it should be possible to determine the impact of climate change on the internal stratification of snow, firn (partially compacted snow) and ice," explains Irena Hajnsek, Project Manager of the ARCTIC15 campaign.

This is interesting to, for example, investigate how much water from the snow that melts on the surface freezes again during infiltration and thus does not contribute to sea level rise. This effect is considered to be insufficiently addressed in current climate models, as stated in a recent report issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Source: German Aerospace Center (DLR)

Image credit: German Aerospace Center - DLR Do 228-212 research aircraft D-CFFU