NASA Has Recruited Some Extremely Unusual Partners To Help Them Track Sea Ice
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has some of the best resources in the world for accomplishing just about every single mission they choose to undertake. Whether it is tracking global weather phenomenons, building new space technology, or even sending people to the moon, NASA has always had the best and brightest on hand.
But when the project called Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) took on the daunting task of nailing down accurate estimates of sea level rise, particularly in Greenland, they slowly realized that their boats, planes, and floating devices were simply not doing the job as well as something natural could do.
That is when they realized that there were specific creatures living in the area that could monitor the ice far better than anything else they had: narwhals.
The whales that everyone mistakes for an underwater unicorn.
Not only do these incredible marine animals navigate extremely dense ice flows with ease, but they also can dive down more than 5,500 feet, giving them the perfect access to what is really going on with sea ice.
“In the summer, the sea ice melts away and narwhals migrate to remote fjords in Melville Bay,” said Ian Fenty, a NASA oceanographer who studies sea level and ice. “Narwhals spend time feeding in the waters in front of the glaciers — exactly where we need ocean measurements for OMG.”
Since most of the coast surrounding Greenland is ice-free for only a very short time out of the year, it is extremely difficult to even get accurate maps of the actual ocean in the area.