Photo Friday: The 2020 Greenland Melt Season is Underway

Daily updates have resumed for the 2020 Greenland melt season, the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), based in Boulder, Colorado, announced last month. The open-access information is available for those interested on the NSIDC website for the April through October melt season. The Greenland Ice Sheet Today data collection contains daily, monthly, and annual melt areas for the Greenland Ice Sheet. The data is displayed as an interactive chart where users can select years to compare back to 1979.

Source: National Snow and Ice Data Center

The green plot line below represents the 2019 melt year. According to the NSIDC, melting on the Greenland ice sheet for 2019 was the seventh-highest since 1978, behind 2012, 2010, 2016, 2002, 2007, and 2011.

Source: National Snow and Ice Data Center

The Greenland ice sheet data is derived from passive microwave sensors, which project data onto a 25-kilometer equal-area grid. Ice monitoring gained a powerful new tool with the launch of ICESat-2 in the fall of 2018. The orbiter uses a laser altimeter to produce imagery with astounding resolution. According to NASA, “With 10,000 laser pulses per second, this fast-shooting laser technology allows ATLAS to take measurements every 28 inches along the satellite’s path.”

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Photo Friday: Historic Images of Glaciers

The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) advances scientific research on the frozen areas of the Earth, known as the crysophere, and the climate that influences them. Founded in 1976, the center manages a data archive and educates the public about the cryosphere, including the world’s glaciers. Scientists of the NSIDC specialize in collecting data through remote sensing, which is the process of using satellites to observe information. The center was originally formed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) to hold archives from NOAA’s programs. Today, the NSIDC is housed at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where it continues to be the leader of cryospheric data management.

The photographs held by the NSIDC date back to the mid-1800s and include images of glaciers in Europe, South America, the Himalayas, Antarctica and elsewhere. As of 2010, the searchable, online collection has over 15,000 photos of glaciers, which serve as important historical records for researchers and scientists studying the impacts of climate change.

Take a look at GlacierHub’s compilation of photographs from the database. To view more historic images, visit the NSIDC’s Glacier Photograph Collection.


Bertha Glacier, Alaska, 1894 (Source: James J. McArthur).



Crevasse at Arapaho Glacier, Boulder Colorado, in the Rocky Mountains, 1919 (Source: Junius Henderson).



Unknown glacier, Alaska, 1942 (Source: Photographer unknown).



Blue Glacier, Washington, 1899 (Source: Photographer unknown).




Yale Glacier, Alaska, 1935 (Source: William Osgood Field).