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Project Reference

Name GreenSAR

Title Greenland ice sheet mass and velocity trends from CryoSat SARIn and InSAR data

Thematic Area Cryosphere


Action Line The Changing Earth Science Network

Status Completed in 2012

Missions ENVISAT, ERS-2, CryoSat-2, TanDEM-X


Project Description


Climate warming over the 20th century has forced dramatic changes of the Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS). Satellite observations have revealed increased flow of the glaciers to the sea, increased surface melting, lowering of the Ice Sheet surface, retreat of the glaciers' fronts, and gravity anomaly related to ice mass loss. These changes have led to a reduction in the mass of the GrIS and a consequent rise in global sea level. With enough ice to raise global sea levels by over 7 metres, future changes could have a dramatic societal and economic impact. Runoff from the GrIS, for example, has the potential to modify patterns of global ocean circulation, with profound consequences on the Earth's system heat transport.

Earth observation satellites provide a way to measure essential climate variables over large areas and with a frequency that allows to understand and quantify the changes affecting the GrIS. Satellites provide, for example, datasets to understand the mechanisms by which mass is being lost and how the GrIS responds to the forcing of heat transport by the atmosphere and the ocean. The purpose of GreenSAR is to quantify the degree of mass imbalance of the GrIS by exploiting Earth Observation datasets from past, present, and future European Space Agency satellite missions. The dataset will be used to test new concepts and techniques to better characterise mass imbalance. The outcome of this work will provide a comprehensive understanding of the mass transfer between the GrIS and the ocean, and an understanding of feedback processes that will provide an improved capacity to predict future changes of the GrIS and its contribution to global sea level.

Project Consortium

Project Partners U Leeds : University of Leeds(CESN Host Institition)

Contact Points

Project Manager Dr. Noel Gourmelen
School of Earth and Environment
University of Leeds
Woodhouse Lane
Leeds LS2 9JT
Tel: +44 (0) 113 243 1751

Technical Officer


Useful Information

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