The research seems urgent after increases in severe weather like hurricanes have increasingly raised the question of how global ice melt contributes to these weather phenomena.
Read: Greenland, Antarctica ice melt speeding up. Sepp Kippstuhl, a glaciologist at AWI says researchers are not sure how much humans contribute to climate change, but that industrialization and the emissions it creates surely have effects on climate. More Videos Greenland: Secrets in the Ice -- Part 1 Greenland: Secrets in the Ice -- Part 2 Greenland: Secrets in the Ice -- Part 3 Greenland: Secrets in the Ice -- Part 4 Greenland: Secrets in the Ice -- Part 5 Greenland: Secrets in the Ice -- Part 6 That is why we are trying to improve our climate modeling," says Kippstuhl. The AWI's mission to the Arctic will try and improve methods of gaining data on ice melt in the Arctic.
After outfitting the Polar 6 research aircraft with antennas and state of the art computer systems for over a week, the team and the aircraft head to Kangerlussuaq in Greenland -- a former U.
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Polar 6 is a unique plane. The airframe comes from a DC-3 Dakota, a plane used by the U. However, while Polar 6 might look like an old plane, it is outfitted with state of the art modern avionics and brand new engines, making it as reliable as any modern day aircraft. Read: Greenhouse gases reach new peak. The first part of the AWI's polar mission was conducting radar survey flights to the middle of Greenland's ice shield.
The Secrets Held in the Ice
After take off from Kangerlussuaq and a flight over some of the most majestic fjords in the world, Polar 6 reached the glaciers on the fringes of Greenland's inland ice. It took the aircraft another two hours to get to the radar survey area. The ice here is a lot like the salt flats in Nevada, there are no hills or valley, no landmarks whatsoever, making it extremely hard for the pilots to distinguish the clouds from the surface.
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Around three hours into our flight, Steinhage was finally able to boot his computers and start using the radar equipment. Read: Trying to agree a Kyoto 2.
Woolly Mammoth: Secrets from the Ice
The data gathered by Polar 6's radars is part of the puzzle to try and map conditions in the top layers of the arctic ice shield. The ice here consists of compressed snow that fell in Greenland in the past and was then pressed into layers as more and more precipitation came down over the years. The ice is layered much like tree rings.
Each layer represents a certain point in time and gives clues to the climate conditions of that era.
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There are so many factors influencing the world's climate that it is very hard to predict how it will change in the future. But each bit of information also delivers some answers to questions about the how our climate is evolving. Read: Drought-stressed trees face race to adapt. For the second part of the AWI's missions, the team loaded a heavy drill into Polar 6's hull and landed right in the middle of the ice shield on skis to drill ice cores. Delivering the drill with a plane is unique in itself, so far researchers would mostly use snow mobiles or other special vehicles to transport equipment to drill sites.
A process that could take days, with Polar 6 only takes a few hours. Sepp Kipfstuhl is in charge of shallow ice core drilling at the AWI and brings more than 30 years of experience to the table. After a rough landing right on Greenland's inland ice, Kipfstuhl and his team set up their drill and begin working. The cores they pull out of the ice will have to be scientifically evaluated in a lab for months after the end of the mission, but with his experience Kipfstuhl immediately points to signs that point to very warm summers here in the Arctic in the past years.
The melt layers point to extremely warm summers here in the past years, where the ice surface melted and then froze again during the winter. That preliminary evaluation is also backed by NASA data from its ice tracking satellite. This process is also clearly visible from the air as Polar 6 flies over Greenland. Clear blue meltwater ponds dot the landscape, growing larger under the Arctic summer's sun.
Kipfstuhl and his team spent about seven hours drilling on the ice shield. Since shelves are already suffering from thinning, these deepening canyons mean that fractures are likely to develop and the grounded ice upstream will flow faster than would be the case otherwise. You have already rated this page, you can only rate it once! Your rating has been changed, thanks for rating! CryoSat reveals Antarctica in 3D 24 March CryoSat reveals lake outbursts beneath Antarctic ice 08 February Antarctic ice safety band at risk 08 February Antarctic ice safety band at risk 08 February Antarctica is surrounded by huge ice shelves.