Ice Baby

Ice is being lost across the globe, especially in the polar regions. The continental ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica are shedding ice to the oceans and raising sea level. Arctic sea ice is less than half its 1980s volume. Fundamentally changing the Arctic, this ice loss may also be affecting North American and global weather.

Science to the rescue
In September 2018, NASA is launching the Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) to measure changes in Earth’s ice and improve forecasts of the global impacts of these changes. With its fast-firing laser, the satellite will collect information enabling scientists to calculate—to within fractions of an inch—how much the vast ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland rise or fall each year. ICESat-2 will take measurements across the globe and provide an incredibly precise height map of our planet in unprecedented detail. Its focus will be on Earth’s poles, including the Arctic region where temperatures are rising faster than at other latitudes.

ICESat-2 will provide scientists with height measurements that create a global portrait of Earth’s third dimension, gathering data that can precisely track changes of terrain including glaciers, sea ice, forests and more. The single instrument on ICESat-2 is ATLAS, the Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System, will measure melting ice sheets and investigate how this effects sea level rise, investigate changes in the mass of ice sheets and glaciers, estimate and study sea ice thickness, and measure the height of vegetation in forests and other ecosystems worldwide.