NASA’s IceSat space laser tracks water depths from orbit

Scientists say one of many US space company’s (Nasa) new Earth observers goes to have a transformative influence in an sudden space.

The IceSat-2 laser mission was launched a yr in the past to measure the form of Antarctica and Greenland, and to trace the thickness of Arctic sea-ice.

But early outcomes present a exceptional functionality additionally to sense water depths.

IceSat’s laser mild penetrates as much as 40m within the clearest situations, opening up a raft of latest functions.

“As a lot as folks assume all areas on Earth have been moderately properly mapped, it is actually not true if you begin shallow water areas,” mentioned Dr Christopher Parrish from Oregon State University.

“We’ve acquired large information voids from the shoreline out to about 5m water depth.

“This hinders our ability to study things like inundation, the effects of major storms, and the changes to coral reef habitat.”

A challenge has already began to map the seafloor round low-lying Pacific islands and atolls, which is able to help tsunami preparedness for instance.

The functionality must also allow scientists to work out the volumes of inland water our bodies to assist quantify Earth’s world freshwater reserves.

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