During the new Antarctic surveys, "we'll survey some glaciers that, as far as we can tell, no one has surveyed with a laser and a radar previously, to map surface elevation and ice thickness," said Joe MacGregor, IceBridge's deputy project scientist and a glaciologist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, as reported by NASA Earth Observatory. "That meets the definition of Antarctic exploration," he added.
Ice and penguins
West Antarctica, where the current survey took place, is made up of several ice-covered islands. According to NASA, you could think of it as Hawaii, but with penguins.
Using data gathered by the IceBridge mission, NASA researchers found that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet may be in a state of irreversible decline. The collapse of this ice sheet would directly contributing to rising sea levels.
It is so cold on the southernmost continent that no plants except moss and algae call it home.
Another view of sea ice from NASA's Operation IceBridge research aircraft in the Antarctic Peninsula region, on Nov. 3, 2017, above Antarctica.
Icebergs, which come in all shapes and sizes, are chunks of ice that have broken off (or calved) glaciers, ice sheets or bigger icebergs. Most of the icebergs on Earth hang out either in the chilly waters surrounding Antarctica or in the North Atlantic Ocean, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).
"For nine years, NASA’s Operation IceBridge has been flying over Antarctica to measure changes in land and sea ice at the bottom of the world," NASA said in a summary of the project. More icy findings to come as scientists analyze the data and conduct more research flights.
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Jeanna served as editor-in-chief of Live Science. Previously, she was an assistant editor at Scholastic's Science World magazine. Jeanna has an English degree from Salisbury University, a master's degree in biogeochemistry and environmental sciences from the University of Maryland, and a graduate science journalism degree from New York University. She has worked as a biologist in Florida, where she monitored wetlands and did field surveys for endangered species. She also received an ocean sciences journalism fellowship from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.