Landsat In Action - Monitoring Polar Ice Caps with Ted Scambos

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Detailed Description

Ted Scambos, Lead Scientist at the National Snow & Ice Data Center, talks about the roll of Landsat in his research studying polar regions.


Date Taken:

Length: 00:02:52

Location Taken: AQ

Video Credits: Producer, Steve Young


I'm Ted Scambos and I'm
the lead scientist at the

National Snow & Ice Data
Center. That's a part of

the University of Colorado.

Landsat 8 is part of a
revolution of how much

remote sensing can do
to track the polar areas

and of course polar areas
are really experiencing

the brunt of climate change
on earth right now.

Even if it might be hard
to tell whether an area has

gotten warmer or cooler
from weather data alone,

because it's really noisy,
the glaciers can tell you

that over the last decade
or 2 decades or 3 decades,

a certain area has become
warmer or dryer than

it used to be.

We measure the ice frow
using pairs of Landsat

images. We can see
crevasses and other features

move from high to low
spots in Antarctica.

What areas have changed
since the 1970s and what

areas are changing just
in the last few years.

Often the ocean around
Antarctica will show small

areas that are warmer and
right near the ice shelf,

any amount of heat in
the water is an indication

that the ice could be

That event right there,
that accelerated flow from

land into the water is the
part thats doing the biggest

fraction of contribution to
sea level rise right now.

And if we are going to see
some of these extreme

rates of sea level rise and
levels like 2 and 3 feet in

because glaciers have

accelerated in Greenland,
Antarctica, and they've

melted in all of the glacier
areas on earth.

So yeah, we want to track
all of this and in near

real time, because lots
of folks are concerned or

conducting research in
how the world's icy areas

are changing. They really
are the harbingers of

global climate change. And
in the arctic especially they're

showing huge effects of
climate warming. So together

Landsat is a part of this
emerging story where

we have lots of ways of
studying exactly how

climate change is progressing
in the arctic and antarctic.

We're going to have a lot
of data to work with and

really it's going to be up
to new graduate students

new young scientists to
figure out what clever ways

you can put together all of
this information and extract

something out telling us
about whats going on deep

within the snow or whether
or not dust or soot are

beginning to contaminate
an area and darken it

and make it easier to melt.
All those things I think are

addressable with Landsat
playing a role, but

probably in concert with
other satellites.