NASA is not an agency to mince clever acronyms. The Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous, or NEAR, for example, examines an asteroid near earth. IMAGE stands for Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration, and it takes images of our magnetosphere. There's also KaBOOM, or Ka-Band Objects Observation and Monitoring, that also tracks near-earth objects that could go KaBOOM on Earth.
So we were very, very excited to learn about one of NASA's upcoming missions, OMG.
This summer, a refitted fishing boat is mapping the seafloor around Greenland as the first step in a six-year research program to document the loss of ice from the world's largest island. NASA's Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) field campaign is gathering data that will help scientists both to understand how the oceans are joining with the atmosphere in melting the vast ice sheet and to predict the extent and timing of the resulting sea level rise.
The idea is to track, comprehensively, Greenland's melting glaciers. Ian Fenty, an OMG co-investigator, said in a statement that "people have been going to Greenland, studying a few glaciers at a time, trying to make sense of the complex melting and glacier-retreat pattern observed by satellites…But we really can't, unless we take a far-reaching approach."
Building a thorough map of the region will help scientists better understand how sea levels will rise in the future. OMG principal investigator Josh Willis said that "a lot of the major uncertainty in future sea level rise is in the Greenland Ice Sheet… The question is how fast it's melting." OMG indeed.
Danielle Wiener-Bronner is a news reporter.