Oceans Melting Greenland

About OMG:

NASA’s OMG mission is collecting data all around Greenland each year using aircraft to measure the oceans (in the late summer) and ice (in the spring) all the way around the island. The goal of OMG is to figure out how much of Greenland’s ice is reacting to the warming of the oceans, so that we can better predict global sea level rise.

The video above shows how we drop temperature probes from the airplane during the summer campaign. These probes, called AXCTDs (Airborne eXpendable Conductivity, Temperature and Depth), are passive and emit no sounds in the water, and they slowly decompose on the sea floor after collecting data for about 15 minutes.

Animation depicting two aircraft taking measurements of the land and the ocean.

The animation above shows an airplane deploying AXCTDs (Airborne eXpendable Conductivity Temperature and Depth) probes to measure the temperature and saltiness of the water in the fjords and all around Greenland. The animation also shows the radar, called GLISTIN-A (Glacier and Ice Surface Topography Interferometer), which measures how fast the glaciers are thinning and retreating.

Map depicting the locations of AXCTD drops in a typical year.
Map depicting the locations of GLISTIN-A radar lines.
The yellow dots in the map above show where AXCTD probes are dropped in a typical year. This survey usually happens in August and September, when there is less sea ice. The aircraft usually flies low (between 500 ft and 5000 ft) in order to make sure that no people, equipment or wildlife are near the drop zone. The red lines in the map above show where the GLISTIN radar collects data on the ice heights. This survey usually happens in spring, and the aircraft flies very high (around 40,000 ft).