Measuring Earth’s Meltdown in Greenland – UC Irvine


The glaciers in Greenland are melting and raising the sea level. There's an equivalent of a seven meter sea level rise globally contained in the Greenland ice sheet. So we'd like to find out how long it's going to take for these seven meters to be released in the ocean. That's the big question. >> People are not very aware about where we're heading and we're heading towards something that is not pleasant for sure. It's important that we're aware of it and do not buy a house too close to the beach. >> We're measuring the sea floor depth in some of the glacier fjords and we're collecting oceanographic data to measure the temperature and salinity of the ocean from the surface all the way to the bottom. Instead of having melt rates of a few meters per year like we have in the Antarctic, in Greenland you have melt rates of a few meters per day. On the surface we work twenty-four hours / seven.

We have to deal with the weather, whether it's windy, rainy, cold or warm, we have to get these measurements going. Doing field work in Greenland is quite expensive. Our time is limited here, so we try to use every minute These surveys are always a race against time and we always lose. There's always something to slow us down; there's never something to make us go faster. The big challenge coming in these waters is the presence of ice in the fjords. We come to study glaciers that discharge ice in the fjords… and the fjords are full of ice. In some places the fjord can be so full of ice the boat can't even push through. So we're going to have to watch out for these when we put the instrument on the side. If we hit one of these at seven knots, we'll have to talk to our insurance company after that. If you want to your way toward an ice face and there's a lot of ice in the fjord, you can easily say…

throw your hands up and say, "Look, we're not going to bother. We might take some risk here. It's going to take a long time. We may not be able to finish it." At some point you have to jump and say, "Well, we're going to try." I've always been interested in ice on a personal level through climbing in the mountains with my friends in my twenties. But I never saw that as a career. I didn't even know you could make a career of studying ice. I've always been attracted by polar regions. I know my friends wanted to cruise in the Caribbean and I always thought no, I'd rather cruise here in these waters. I don't know why. I like it..