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NASA’s ICESat-2 Will Provide Deeper Sea Ice Forecasts

By Cresswell McCoy | Mar 16, 2017 11:13 AM EDT

The Arctic sea ice pack will reach its greatest extent during the month of March, but this year it turns out to be below average. NASA's Ice Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite-2 will measure the sea ice in the third dimension.

Since 1979, satellites have been measuring the sea ice continuously. The observations reveal the current amount of ice that covers the ocean's surface. However, there are critical and essential observations to make. Determining the thickness of the sea ice pack is rather difficult without the existing tools.

According to NASA, thicker ice is more resilient to storms and this can take years to build up. The water's temperature can be altered due to the changes that occur in the depth of the sea ice, this can also lead to alter the atmosphere and oceanic currents. The sea ice plays an important role in cooling down the planet right from action as a cap on the ocean.

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Ice can switch from think to thin over very short distances, and scientists have used data from the satellites to monitor the age of the ice. The ICESat-2 is scheduled to launch in 2018, it consists of a laser instrument to measure the height of the earth globally. This will also include monitoring vegetation, water bodies and many more.

Once the ICESat-2 is launched it will be able to provide enough precise data, which will allow scientists to measure how far sea ice floats above the ocean's surface. Managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, this will be an advantage to sea ice forecasts.

The arctic sea ice is changing extremely rapidly and researchers are trying to figure out the root of this rapid change. The ICESat-2 will be a good solution for scientists to get deeper sea ice forecasts. It is not an easy task for researchers to get to the Arctic and study the process, this is because it is too expensive and the climatic situation out there is not friendly. 

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