Monitoring the Greenland Ice Sheet from Space

As one part of my KNAP (Knowledge Acquisition Program)(basically, learn the stuff I need to know to be a competent researcher, consultant and writer), I’ve been undertaking a number of online courses. Another one ticked off the list this week was the ESA (European Space Agency) course “The Frozen Frontier: Monitoring the Greenland Ice Sheet from Space”.

This was really enjoyable. Apart from a few lectures near the end, it was pretty easy-going and informal, but with enough relevant solid data and knowledge to keep the “hard science” ethos satisfied. It’s also (glances at climate news) obviously topical, and make me twitch to visit an ice sheet (or have a return visit to a glacier). Though also with some fear; moulins are fascinating and dramatic, but not a cryospheric feature I want to get close to.

A screenshot from one of the videos which make up the ESA (European Space Agency) course "The Frozen Frontier: Monitoring the Greenland Ice Sheet from Space"
A screenshot from an online course about the Greenland ice sheet.

The course specifically answered a bundle of my questions; for example, how are the changes in the Greenland ice sheet and mass measured, and how accurate are these measurements. Plus a considerable amount of detail I didn’t know I didn’t know (IDKIDK is a ‘thing’ built into my KNAP) was included; for example, which satellites measured what, how frequently, and how is this data collected by researchers and scientists.

A caveat is that it’s a free course (formerly a MOOC) because it was produced around 2016/17 – so that’s where the data, findings, trends, conclusions and so forth end. It would be great if it was updated, but this is unlikely as the main presenter – and driving force behind the ‘Swiss Camp’ on the Greenland ice sheet – is deceased, due to an accident while undertaking fieldwork. However, the ESA provide several other related online courses in the wider climate-science field, and I’ll be working my way through those in future months.

The course is here:

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