NASA’s “OMG” climate campaign

From NASA JPL and the “Do you listen to yourselves when you make acronyms?” department.

by Carol Rasmussen
NASA’s Earth Science News Team

With a new research plane and a new base to improve its chances of outsmarting Atlantic hurricanes, NASA’s Oceans Melting Greenland campaign takes to the sky this week for its third year of gathering data on how the ocean around Greenland is melting its glaciers.

A close encounter with Greenland ice during a 2017 OMG field campaign. Credit: NASA

OMG’s first two years of operations already collected the most comprehensive data available on the subject, but OMG Principal Investigator Josh Willis of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, is hungry for more. “We’re beginning to see some surprising changes in the ocean, just since the start of OMG in 2016, that are affecting the ice,” said Willis, an oceanographer at JPL. “We want to see if those changes are still there after two years, and if they’re spreading farther along the Greenland coast.”

Willis and Project Manager Steve Dinardo, also of JPL, are leaving for Greenland this week on an airborne campaign to do just that. For the third year in a row, they will drop about 250 probes just offshore all around the island, with some drops close to the fronts of ocean-terminating glaciers. The probes sink 3,000 feet (1,000 meters) into the seawater, recording temperature and salinity as they go. The researchers hope to make their first flight on Aug 22 and complete the work in two to three weeks, depending on weather.

Beating the Weather

Unfortunately for OMG, the best time to drop probes into the ocean around Greenland — the time with the most open water — is during hurricane season. “Hurricanes go up to Greenland to die,” said Dinardo. “In 2016, there were days the winds were so strong we couldn’t even open the hangar doors.” Weather groundings stretched the planned three-week deployment to five weeks.

In 2017, weather struck closer to home: Hurricane Harvey sidelined the Houston-based plane and crew just days before the campaign was scheduled to begin. Dinardo managed to locate a viable alternative aircraft and get the OMG team airborne within a month of the originally planned start.

This year’s new plane and new base should improve OMG’s weather odds. The plane, a Basler BT-67 operated by NASA contractor Airtec, can take off and land on a shorter runway than either of the planes OMG previously used. That allows the team to base their east coast operations in Kulusuk, a small airport in southeastern Greenland, rather than a larger airport in Iceland. The lengthy “commute” from Iceland cut into the time available for research on each flight, and the longer flight path meant more places where there might be bad weather.

When they complete the east coast drops, the team will move to Thule, a U.S. air base in northwestern Greenland, for drops on the western side of the island.

“Being in Greenland the whole time, we can get a little more up close and personal with the ice sheet and glaciers,” Willis said.

OMG and Narwhals

The changing ocean around Greenland affects living creatures as well as glaciers. Narwhals — smallish whales with long single tusks — are uniquely adapted to Arctic waters, moving seasonally from the open ocean to the glacier fronts of Greenland and Canada. Kristin Laidre, a research scientist at the University of Washington in Seattle, studies these elusive mammals and their habitats. She quickly saw the value of OMG’s observations, publishing the first peer-reviewed paper to use OMG data.

Laidre and Ian Fenty of JPL, an OMG co-principal investigator, are on the west side of Greenland from the airborne OMG team this week, on a six-day research cruise. Their team will place moorings in front of three important glaciers in northwestern Greenland, with acoustic recorders and OMG data loggers attached to the mooring chains. These instruments will log ocean temperature and conductivity (used to calculate salinity) and detections of narwhals.

This intensive local data set is likely to add new insights into OMG’s larger-scale measurements, Fenty said. “Because the instruments will take measurements every hour for two years, we will get a totally new understanding of the changing ocean close to the ice,” he noted. “These data will help us interpret our OMG probe data and allow us to evaluate and improve our [computer] simulations of the ocean currents in the area.”

Laidre said, “We don’t know a lot about what’s important to narwhals — how physical oceanography influences their habitat preferences. OMG is collecting really detailed information on the physics of the system. For us, having access to those data and working with the OMG investigators can bring us a long way in studying these animals.”

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88 thoughts on “NASA’s “OMG” climate campaign

  1. “We’re beginning to see some surprising changes in the ocean, just since the start of OMG in 2016″

    That’s like opening your eyes for the first time evah and thinking that the world has changed because you can see it.

  2. I always love how it takes lots of petrol to study CC and then they rant against people using petrol.

    • Yes, I’m a week late on this discussion, but this article did not, not once, say “climate change” or “global warming”. He did say “changes” twice, both times related to the ocean, and he’s right, with the change in the AMO, there are ongoing changes. And if the narwhales are hard to find like they say, this adds some useful data to their understanding. So, really, it sounds like some interesting research.

    • Well, if the data does not fit the narrative I’m sure we can count on Josh Willis to find the offending instruments declare them defective and remove them from the climate record.

      That’s his specialty since he found ocean temps were cooling in2006 until he got told to get with the program. He then dug out a series of XTBs and got rid of the inconvenient truth.

  3. They mention that they are noticing changes, but haven’t stated what those changes are.
    Are we so assume they are bad changes, as is implied?

    To the galley slaves: We have some good news and bad news. First, the good news. Today you will have a change of underwear. Now for the bad news; everyone is to change underwear with the person sitting next to them.

  4. On another note I saw an omg report that a WWII plane that crashed on a Greenland glacier has reappeared. It never crosses the zealots minds that the plane crashed on top of the glacier and was subsequently buried by ice and snow. Assuming that the glacier did not move very far the current size would be the same as 1945.

    • That would be Glacier Girl. Recovered from under 265 feet of ice. Now airworthy. The P-38 was one of 4 that made an emergency landing. All pilots were rescued.

    • Are you confusing the WW2 Dakota recently exposed in the Alps with the P38 recovered by excavating about 80 metres deep into the Greenland icecap?

    • Snow gathers at the top, and squeezes out as ice at the bottom.

      The glacier is NOT 265 feet taller than it was in 1945. The plane has sunk by that much.

      • The idea that Glacier Girl and the other four planes sunk into the snow has been thoroughly debunked in the literature. Over 265’ of snow hs fallen over those planes since it is now compacted.

        • And 265 feet worth of ice has flowed out from the bottom of the glacier, resulting in the top of the glacier staying where it is, but everything else moving downwards.
          In other words, sinking.

          • Okay, to clarify in layman’s terms, the aircraft slowly moved ‘downwards’ as the ice below melted and new ice formed above?

            With that in mind am I correct in assuming that eventually the aircraft would have moved down enough to reach ‘rock’ and would then have been slowly ground into fragments?

          • Whether the plane moved all the way to the bottom before it started moving down hill would depend on exactly where on the glacier it landed.

          • Glaciers flow downhill, carrying anything that lands on them downhill. So in that respect the planes have “sunk” however that is not to say they are any closer to the bed of the glacier, because they have moved to a point where the bed is lower.

            Glaciers start out shallow and get deeper as they move until they reach a elevation at which they start melting.

            So in Glacier Girl’s case, the glacier is probably about 265 ft deeper at the position the plane is now that it was at the position where the plane landed. The plane is lower than when it landed but it will have moved much more horizontally.

  5. What in tarnation does NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory have to do with Greenland glaciers?? Focus, NASA, you need to FOCUS. No wonder they no longer have a space vehicle capable of sending people into orbit. Heck, they had that back in 1962.

  6. Why is a “Jet Propulsion Laboratory” messing around in glaciology. I would have thought my tax dollars would have been wasted via the appropriate agency — NOAA. Way too much $$$ sloshing around in the federal budgets allowing for boondoggles for all. Every kid wants a free vacation to the arctic circle to sight see the ice sheets — of course paid for by the USG,.. aka me. JPL should be working of “Jets”, “Propulsion” or Lab work. If J P & L are all done,.. layoffs should be considered if there are too many heads, ‘scientist’ over-hires, or bureaucrats looking for something to do to waste time and money. Green Gravy Train has to be curtailed …

    • With current educational systems I suspect the kids will be looking for the Arctic CIRCLE (and perhaps the north POLE also)…….

  7. A Basler BT-67 is a DC-3 with turbine engines. Pretty amazing this 70+ yr old airframe is still flying albeit with different power plants and electronics.

    So they have 2 years data and he is already claiming: “We’re beginning to see some surprising changes in the ocean, just since the start of OMG in 2016, that are affecting the ice,”

    Seriously?? 2 years and you are seeing changes? Don’t you have to define “normal” before you can see what is not “normal”? This is no doubt a very expensive project so he has to have some overriding reason to keep going, so saying 2 years and nothing has changed will dry up his funding pretty darn fast.

    Maybe what he is collecting will be beneficial, but I’m pretty sure 2 years into it doesn’t mean squat from a data standpoint. I just hope all those devices he will be dropping into the oceans won’t be eaten by whales (or worse polar bears) and choke them to death.

    • I don’t know what exactly these probes are but I hope they aren’t emitting any signals which could confuse the narwhals.

  8. In addition to the stupidity of the acronym, “Oceans Melting Greenland” is a serious case of speculating in advance of the data.

    Since they had already decided what result they want, how can anybody trust the findings they eventually fabricate.

    • Just remember… the government hires those munchkins straight from University with Leftist-dominant ideals, chock-full of Save The Planet idealism, and not exactly strong enough candidates (or with something useful as a degree) to get a job in the Real World outside of Mama Government.

      I’m just saying – while there certainly must be absolutely dedicated, gifted, experienced, educated, competent, artistic and dâhmned fine scientists staffing governemtn positions all over the place, they are the exception, not the rule. What do I have to back that?

      A life’s worth of reading government reports. Of having dozens of friends and scores of aquaintances in all levesl of scientifically motivated Government … from the EPA thru NREL, thru EPRI, HHS, Dept of Forestry, Agriculture, and maybe not exactly government, but might as well be: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

      To the last person, without a single utternace of contradiction or dissent, the consensus is: “mostly a bunch of leftist apparatchik muffins” are the norm. Granted, SMART enough muffins to keep their heads down, follow the rules, make competent reports, say “Aye, aye, Madam”, and to over the course of their adult lives, take certifications, Masters’ degrees, and some even PhD’s, in all nature of lefty lambskin university training.

      Mine you: I also have been VERY discriminating in transforming a very few of the many acquaintances into “friends”. They definitely all hold meaningful degrees, and haven’t been bowled over by The Swamp of Leftism that pervades so many levels of Government.

      Still… Just saying.
      GoatGuy

  9. Some years ago San Fran wanted to rebrand SWAT teams as something more friendly. They came up with Fast Action Response Team and got as far as the press conference with everyone wearing FART t-shirts before anyone noticed.
    It took the Wisconsin Trade Federation about a decade but I think they finally changed their name.

    • The French Army once had a Special Forces unit with the acronym CRAP. Don’t know if it still exists, or has been renamed.

      • Commandos de Renseignement et d’Action dans la Profondeur, (CRAP) is now Groupement des Commandos Parachutistes (GCP). The original acronym is not that unreasonable as it does not mean a word in French.

      • One of the forerunners of the KGB was OGPU. Hard to strike fear into the hearts of the West with that acronym. The functions of the KGB have since been split up to the FSB, SVR, and FSO.

  10. I guess ALL knowledge and data is good … but … 350 probes around Greenland to learn about Narwal habitat changes? Don’t we already KNOW that animal species ADAPT or DIE? Isn’t that part and parcel of Darwinism? But! If … the data collected, and study results in MORE climate change hysteria … then … mission accomplished. Right?

    Lenin … V.I. Lenin, Donny (you’re out of your depth) … was right. We are selling the rope to hang ourselves. We are SELLING global warming, which will hang the capitalist system that had the excess profits to fund it in the first place.

    • I can just see these 250 probes dropped from an airplane killing the remaining narwhal population as they streak down through the 3,000 feet of water…

    • The purpose is not to study narwhal habitat but to study the general condition of the ocean around Greenland. The narwhal folks are piggy-backing on the OMG operation.

  11. This comes back to my “old” argument I use to present to the scientists I use to manage. How do we know what it was or what it means if we never measured something before? The example I used was the Gulf Stream current system. We thought we knew everything there was to know about it, then we put a satellite up and looked back.

    The last time I used the argument was when we had a group studying Florida Bay. After nearly a century of every declining freshwater flow through the Everglades we had suddenly tried to return the freshwater input to what was believed the historical “normal.” The ecosystem that had developed over nearly a century “didn’t like” the change and responded rather dramatically. Of course to all the environmentalists who had pushed for the increase in freshwater, they ignored that they had done so, and “screamed” it was some new man-made disaster.

    • Is that’s what going on in Florida? Press coverage worse, if possible, than usual. Fish dying in canals after an greenish algal bloom looks like an oxygen problem, red tide different organism, is it going at same time? I knew the people who first cultured the red tide organism six decades ago, one of whom died not long ago, unhappy with the way the science went. It’s called problem solving. There ain’t no historical normal.

      I also was around some of the “Ecological Engineer” types, some, maybe only just a long time ago, realized that you had to understand what was going on before you could fix it. That was back in the days when they barely knew anything about the Loop Current. Lots of ‘bridges’ they built collapsed, but easier to hide.

      The rarer Texas red tides have all come after a flood, but not all floods produce them. Saharan dust interesting possible connection. Last I read some years ago, they still don’t know what’s going on, but they are going to have a meeting this fall.

  12. They are going to prove exacly what they want to prove or there won’t be money to prove it again next year. What a terrible waste.😰😭😢

    • Josh Willis will learn a lot, such as which data points must be deleted for “quality” reasons to achieve the desired foregone conclusion.

  13. “OMG Principal Investigator Josh Willis”

    Josh Willis is a principle figure in fabrication of data sets purporting to show that the oceans are warming. Next stop, Greenland glaciers are melting and causing sea level rise. Of course, all due to his previously discovered ocean warming.

    He tossed out data he did not like, tampered data sets which did not fit, and NASA treats him as a hero.
    Read all about it here:
    https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/OceanCooling

    (This has been posted here before, but it is always worth a look for those who have not seen it.)

    • Simply put any data that doesn’t agree with their theory is an error to be corrected. Got it.

  14. “We’re beginning to see some surprising changes in the ocean, just since the start of OMG in 2016″

    Indeed. The Swedish Ice-breaker Odin, probably the most powerful non-nuclear icebreaker in the World, recently made it to the North Pole with considerable difficulty and delay. The captain reported that ice conditions are by far the worst he has ever seen since he started making high arctic research expeditions in 2005.

    • Too bad there wasn’t a narwhal character on Spongebob Squarepants. I’m sure there would have been an episode covering what’s important to them loveable critters. They might have found out something by watching… (ark-ark-ark-ark-ark…)

  15. “NASA’s Oceans Melting Greenland campaign takes to the sky this week for its third year of gathering data on how the ocean around Greenland is melting its glaciers”
    “We’re beginning to see some surprising changes in the ocean, just since the start of OMG in 2016, that are affecting the ice,”

    Only three years of gathering data? Well then how do you know the changes are surprising? you don’t have enough data to know if it’s surprising or if it’s perfectly normal.

  16. Unbelievable……
    How can anyone believe this group will conduct unbiased analyses of any data they collect, let alone unbiased publications from same, when they deliberately chose as biased a team name as they could think of (Oceans Melting Greenland) to create the acronym ‘OMG’ commonly understood to mean ‘Oh My God!’ ?

    Blatant Propaganda – OMG!

  17. Why is JPL doing this and not NOAA? Or I’ll bet NOAA is also doing basically the same study. It’s not like multiple government agencies doing the same thing hasn’t happened in the past. You know even scientist need jobs.

  18. Interesting result of NASA’s holding onto Climate Change as a focus way to long. President Trump’s space initiative; civilian side went to Dept of Commerce and military side went to new military arm called Space Force.
    If NASA would forget the climate change on focus on space it could have been on the ground floor of the space initiative. What a great scientific opportunity wasted.

  19. It’s obviously a backronym. They hunted for words that would come out as OMG. Somebody probably got a prize for it.

  20. It would be interesting to see an animation of sea-ice movements in the subject area. (The US Navy used to do them but seem to have stopped now.) In ‘normal operation’ the sea immediately north of Greenland was like the crest of a spillway. Sea ice would flow from west to east along the north of the Canadian Archipelago and Greenland and then ‘spill’ down the east coast of Greenland towards the North Atlantic, never to return. If this normal pattern isn’t happened this year, then scientists (real ones – not the likes of (ha) Josh Willis) ought to be finding out which way the Arctic Ocean gyres are now going and why.

  21. LOL. NASA is full of crazy wit — using “OMG” as their project name acronym is just another touch of Alarmism and political shenanigans. Their “scientific consensus” page is an oxymoron on steroids (because science is never done by consensus). Their claim that “Earth is on fire,” and that “Earth has a fever” (about the same time a Hollyweird movie said the same thing) — show their activism, rather than scientific restraint. Embarrassing.

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