PARCA Overview

Elevation and bathymetry, ice thickness maps of GreenlandBed elevation and bathymetry (left), and ice thickness (right). Image from A new bed elevation data set for Greenland in The Cryosphere by Bamber et al. doi: 10.5194/tc-7-499-2013.

PARCA is a NASA-led, international meeting of scientists studying the Greenland Ice Sheet to understand its contributions to global sea level rise. Centered on satellite and aircraft remote sensing, the meeting also covers field studies, instrument networks, and modeling. PARCA is open to participation from any scientist doing relevant research; including, but not limited to glaciology, geology, geophysics, hydrology, oceanography, and atmospheric sciences. Typically held in January, the meeting is also the major planning venue for fieldwork in Greenland with a range of US, European, and other international participants.


For over two decades, PARCA has provided an annual venue to discuss results and develop new projects for research on the Greenland Ice Sheet. Begun by NASA in 1993 as the Program for Arctic Regional Climate Assessment, PARCA’s goal was and remains understanding the changes occurring to the Greenland Ice Sheet. Within a decade of its start, PARCA had produced the first accurate assessment of the ice sheet’s negative mass balance and further NASA research documented the acceleration in ice loss from both glacial flow and surface melting. NASA’s Greenland research portfolio has grown dramatically since PARCA’s beginnings with new satellite and aircraft missions including ICESat (2003-2009), IceBridge (2009-2020), Oceans Melting Greenland (2016-2021), and ICESat-2 (expected to launch 2018), as well as a range of research projects, field studies and instrumentation networks, and communal efforts to link Greenland to global models. Interagency and international collaboration is a hallmark of the program with joint projects and meetings involving the US National Science Foundation and many European agencies. Through it all, the annual PARCA meeting has remained the leading international conference on change in the Greenland Ice Sheet.

See Also


The main objective of the GLAS instrument was to measure ice sheet elevations and changes in elevation through time. Secondary objectives included measurement of cloud and aerosol height profiles, land elevation and vegetation cover, and sea ice thickness.

IceBridge Data at the NSIDC DAAC

The Operation IceBridge mission, initiated in 2009, collects airborne remote sensing measurements to bridge the gap between NASA's Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) mission and the upcoming ICESat-2 mission.

Greenland Ice Sheet Today

Get satellite images and information about surface melting on the Greenland ice sheet. Images are updated daily, and we post analysis periodically as conditions warrant.