Recent Gravity Study Helps Better Understand Climate Change Trends

Recent Gravity Study Helps Better Understand Climate Change Trends
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Climate change is one of the biggest threats humanity has ever faced. Scientists continue to research it, and a recent study revealed more about the critical alterations in the global climate system. The review was published in the Nature Climate Change journal. In short, the research was a gravity study that helped scientists better understand climate change trends.

The team behind the review has Frank Flechtner, Christoph Reigber, Christoph Dahle and Henryk Dobslaw from the Helmholtz Centre Potsdam German Research Centre for Geosciences GFZ and Ingo Sasgen from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research.

Recent Gravity Study Helps Better Understand Climate Change Trends

The satellite duo Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment were launched back on March 17, 2002. The mission lasted for 15 years, which is a lot more than it was supposed to. During these years the satellites gathered a lot of data. They managed to record the gravitational field of our planet for more than 160 months.

The satellite offered us the first direct measurement of ice mass loss. Until now only indirect methods have been used, so this is a great achievement. The data revealed that 60 percent of the ice is lost because of growing temperatures, while 40 percent is due to a rise of ice flow into the ocean.

The Follow-up Mission

In May last year, a follow-up mission was launched for GRACE. GRACE-FO (GRACE follow-on) has some difficulties, but scientists managed to overcome them and finally the products were submitted.

“The reason was the failure of a control unit on the second GRACE-FO satellite,” explains Frank Flechtner. “This made it necessary to switch to the replacement unit installed for such scenarios. But now, with GRACE-FO, a more than two decades long recording of the mass changes in the system Earth is within reach.”

The recent gravity study is the first one that studies Earth’s gravitational field to shed more light on climate change trends.


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