A new NASA-funded database of satellite images and data allows scientists to more accurately predict sea level rises by tracking the velocity of glaciers and ice sheets in near real-time. Edward Baran reports.
Climate scientists have a new tool at their disposal. A database which allows them to use satellite images to map the speed and flow of the world's ice sheets and glaciers. The project's a collaboration between teams at the Universities of Colorado and Alaska and NASA's own experts. It uses imagery from a satellite that keeps tabs on the earth's changing landscape. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SENIOR RESEARCH SCIENTIST AT THE NATIONAL SNOW AND ICE DATA CENTER AT THE UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO BOULDER, TED SCAMBOS, SAYING: "Well Landsat 8 has just been a fantastic satellite for land use, for mapping agricultural areas, for mapping forests. We're discovering that it is more sensitive than the previous Landsat series and it's really opening up a lot of applications in tracking water quality, in tracking how cities are developing, in tracking how the forests are developing." Despite the many possibilities the database opens up, scientists say they're most excited about the ability to monitor glaciers more closely. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SENIOR RESEARCH SCIENTIST AT THE NATIONAL SNOW AND ICE DATA CENTER AT THE UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO BOULDER, TED SCAMBOS, SAYING: "Arctic glaciers are responding in really complicated and interesting ways. They don't just all accelerate at the same time or all slow down at the same time." The hope is the project will help scientists better understand how ice flow is changing around the world. And, crucially, what its impact will be on sea levels.