Back in 2015, in a moment of science communication genius, NASA created a mission called “OMG.” The acronym basically ensured that a new*scientific mission — measuring how quickly the Oceans are Melting Greenland — would get maximum press attention.
The subject is actually extremely serious. OMG amounts to a comprehensive attempt, using ships, planes, and other research tools, to understand what’s happening as warm seas creep into large*numbers of fjords that serve as avenues into the vast ice sheet — many of which contain large and partly submerged glaciers that are already melting and contributing to sea-level rise.
Greenland is, in fact, the largest global*contributor to rising seas — adding around a millimeter*per year to the global ocean, NASA says — and it has 7.36 potential meters (over 24 feet) to give.*The question is how fast it could lose that ice, and over five years, OMG plans to pull in enough data to give the best answer yet.
“We’ve never observed Greenland disappearing before, and that’s what OMG is about,” says Josh Willis, a researcher at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory who is the principal investigator on the mission. “We want to watch how it shrinks over the next five*years, and see how we can use that information to better predict the future.”
And now, the first data are coming in, in the form of not*one*but*two*new studies published in the journal Oceanography by NASA scientists and affiliated university researchers, seeking to measure the swirl of oceans around Greenland and in particular how a warm, deep layer of Atlantic-originating water is moving and interacting with its glaciers.