Large Glacier Flour Storm Captured by Satellites

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The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite and European Space Agency’s Sentinel-2 collected captured a large glacier flour storm that occurred on September 29, 2018.  Glacier flour is a fine silt created by the friction of glacial movement pulverizing rock into fine particles. When winds in Greenland are strong enough, they can carry large plumes of glacier flour that have collected on the floor of dried out floodplains.

The satellites captured events surrounding a braided stream valley located 130 kilometers (80 miles) northwest of Ittoqqortoomiit, a village at a latitude of 73 degrees North.  Located along Greenlands’ east coast, the winds generated a large silt plume from the floodplain that empties into Scoresby Sound.  The silt likely originated from glacier activity farther up on the valley.  The silt was then carried into the floodplain by meltwater streams.  During the fall, the floodplains dried out, leaving behind glacier flour.  A strong wind storm on September 29 scoured the floodplain floor, lifting the silt and spreading it along the coast.

Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey and modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2018)

Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey and modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2018)

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