NASA's Operation IceBridge studies ice loss in Antarctica

NASA’s Operation IceBridge has been studying how polar ice has evolved over the past nine years and is currently flying a series of nine-hour research flights over West Antarctica to monitor ice loss aboard a retrofitted 1966 Lockheed P-3 aircraft.

According to NASA, the current mission targets “sea ice in the Bellingshausen and Weddell seas and glaciers in the Antarctic Peninsula and along the English and Bryan Coasts.” Researchers have used the IceBridge data to observe that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet may be in a state of irreversible decline, directly contributing to rising sea levels.

The National Climate Assessment, a study produced every four years by scientists from 13 federal agencies of the U.S. government, released a stark report Nov. 2 stating that global temperature rise over the past 115 years has been primarily caused by “human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases.” (Getty)

Photography by Mario Tama/Getty Images

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