An extraordinary field season

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Earlier this month, our joint Univ. of Texas and Univ. of Kansas team returned from West Greenland, where we collected data regarding the behavior of ocean-terminating glaciers in a major fjord system.

Many of the sensors we visited, including GPS receivers, seismometers, weather stations and time lapse cameras, had been recording data for a year, since we installed them in August 2013.  While in the field, we also had the opportunity to camp at the terminus of Rink Isbrae (71.5 degrees north latitude) for 10 days.  During that time of focused terminus observations, we were able to scan the terminus with a radar system every 2.5 minutes to detect detailed variations in the speed at which the glacier was moving.  Our team of 5 scientists had a great time working together and developing a better sense for how these beautiful and rapidly changing glacier/ocean systems work.

Together, our data will allow us to better understand the factors that lead to increasing and decreasing glacier stability.  Ultimately, this understanding will allow the glaciological community to make better projections of future glacier change- the leading contributor to the increased sea level anticipated this century.

In this photograph, our field team resets a GPS station on the ice.  Stations such as these allow us to identify the response of the glaciers to ice melt, rain, glacier thinning, and iceberg calving events.