IceBridge - ARISE 2014

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ARISE 2014 News

ARISE Flies Low and High

NASA pilot Jeff Chandler looks out at the sea ice during a flight in NASA's C-130 › View larger
NASA pilot Jeff Chandler looks out at the sea ice during a flight in NASA's C-130 over the Beaufort Sea on Sept. 13, 2014. Credit: NASA / Patrick Lynch

After a day on the ground on Sept. 8, the ARISE team returned to the air with more satellite verification and studies of sea ice and the atmosphere.

Early on the morning of Sept. 9, ARISE mission planners returned to the weather office to prepare for the day’s flight. Weather conditions and satellite overpass schedules looked favorable for a low-altitude grid survey, this one slightly southeast of the Sept. 7 flight.

After takeoff, the C-130 traveled to the survey area to measure incoming sunlight and outgoing thermal energy, sample clouds and collect atmospheric data in a 100 kilometer by 100 kilometer region over varied broken sea ice. During this flight, the ARISE team coordinated measurements with overpasses by seven different satellites.

On Sept. 10, the ARISE team flew out of Eielson Air Force Base for a survey of sea ice going from the ice edge to areas of high concentration seen on satellite images. This portion of the flight consisted of two long adjacent legs flown back-and-forth. On these legs, the team measured surface conditions using the onboard laser altimeter as well as incoming and outgoing solar and thermal infrared radiation from the radiometers under cloud free conditions.

In addition, ARISE researchers studied clouds along the edge of the ice during satellite overpasses. Scattered clouds and fog meant that the C-130 had to alter the flight lines from the planned pattern during the survey. “The flight scientist and pilots did an excellent job of altering the flight track to find good low-level cloud targets while trying to avoid upper-level clouds as much as possible,” said Bill Smith, ARISE principal investigator.

The next morning, mission planners took a look at conditions and selected another grid flight, this time focusing on high-altitudes again. After takeoff, the C-130 climbed to 22,000 feet where the team measured incoming and outgoing solar and thermal infrared radiation for two hours as several satellites passed overhead. Following this the aircraft descended to low altitude for another of the day’s objectives, a survey of low clouds and sea ice.

Sept. 12 served as another down day for ARISE, with the team returning to the air on Sept. 13 for another low-level lawnmower-patterned survey of clouds and sea ice. During this flight, researchers collected data on multi-layered low clouds and measured the elevation and albedo, or reflectivity, of sea ice, which covered more than 90 percent of the region. Data on sea ice albedo will prove helpful to researchers comparing measurements of a previously-flown high-altitude survey of the same area.

After this flight, the ARISE team had another day on the ground for a planning meeting and for scheduled aircraft maintenance. With eight flights in the books and a little more than two weeks left in the campaign, researchers look ahead to more successful surveys.

First Four Flights for ARISE

Broken sea ice captured during an ARISE flight over the Arctic Ocean by one of the C-130’s onboard cameras. › View larger
Broken sea ice captured during an ARISE flight over the Arctic Ocean by one of the C-130’s onboard cameras. Credit: NASA

Researchers with NASA’s ARISE campaign got things off to a productive start with four surveys in a row. These flights looked at sea ice and cloud conditions in various areas of the Arctic and coordinated with several Earth-observing satellites and a surface-based sea ice research team.

On Sept. 4, ARISE carried out its first flight of the campaign, a survey designed to collect data on sea ice conditions, sunlight and infrared levels and cloud properties. To accomplish this, the C-130 would alternate between three different altitudes: low for measuring surface conditions and looking at clouds above, mid-level for collecting cloud data directly using probes aboard the aircraft, and high for measuring sunlight and infrared radiation above the clouds. On this flight, the team also underflew NASA’s Aqua, CALIPSO, Suomi-NPP, Terra and Cloudsat satellites.

The next day, Sept. 5, the C-130 took off for one of the highest priority sea ice flights of the campaign, a survey of ice along the 140 degree west longitude line. This same line was sampled in July by the Seasonal Ice Zone Reconnaissance Survey, or SIZRS, team, who will revisit the area in late September. Data from the Land, Ice and Vegetation Sensor, ARISE’s laser altimeter instrument, along with surface measurements from SIZRS, will help scientists get a better understanding of sea ice.

On Sept. 6, ARISE mission planners went to the weather office to check the day’s options. The forecast looked favorable for a survey of a segment of sea ice near the Canadian coast, but cloud conditions were a mixed bag, with high, thin cirrus clouds in one area and thicker, low-level stratus clouds in another. The team was prepared for this with several options to pursue depending on local weather. In thick clouds, the team would focus on cloud properties, while the presence of cirrus clouds or clear skies overhead meant an emphasis on surface readings and coordinated measurements with overpassing satellites.

Sept. 7 saw ARISE take off on its fourth flight of the campaign, a grid survey designed to measure sunlight and infrared radiation and cloud properties in concert with overpassing satellites. During this survey over the Arctic Ocean north of Alaska, the ARISE team flew at high-altitude for about two hours, flying under seven NASA satellites as they passed overhead. “The pilots did an excellent job of getting the C-130 directly beneath the CALIPSO overpass on time,” said William Smith, ARISE’s principal investigator. Data from these coordinated flights will help researchers validate satellite instrument readings.

After the high-altitude portion of the flight, the C-130 descended to study atmospheric conditions and collect cloud and surface data at lower altitude. “This was an excellent flight day,” said Smith. “All of the instruments worked well the entire flight.”

NASA to Investigate Climate Impacts of Arctic Sea Ice Loss

NASA’s C-130 aircraft will carry scientists over the Arctic starting in late August 2014. › View larger
NASA’s C-130 aircraft will carry scientists over the Arctic starting in late August 2014, from northern Greenland and Fairbanks, Alaska.
Image credit: NASA

A new NASA field campaign will begin flights over the Arctic this summer to study the effect of sea ice retreat on Arctic climate. The Arctic Radiation IceBridge Sea and Ice Experiment (ARISE) will conduct research flights Aug. 28 through Oct. 1, covering the peak of summer sea ice melt.

ARISE is NASA's first Arctic airborne campaign designed to take simultaneous measurements of ice, clouds and the levels of incoming and outgoing radiation, the balance of which determines the degree of climate warming. The campaign team will fly aboard NASA’s C-130 aircraft from Thule Air Base in northern Greenland the first week and from Eielson Air Force Base near Fairbanks, Alaska, through the remainder of the campaign.

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Mission Statement

NASA's ARISE, or Arctic Radiation - IceBridge Sea and Ice Experiment, is an airborne campaign intended to study Arctic land and sea ice, clouds and climate. ARISE uses a unique collection of scientific instruments that measure incoming and outgoing radiation, surface conditions like ice elevation and various cloud properties. These measurements, together with data from satellite and surface based sensors, will give researchers information needed to better understand how changing Arctic ice will influence cloud formation and the overall climate.

Science Objectives

Overall Objective:

Acquire well calibrated datasets using aircraft and surface-based sensors to support the use of NASA satellite and other assets for developing a quantitative process level understanding of the relationship between changes in Arctic ice and regional energy budgets as influenced by clouds.

Specific Objectives:

  1. From the NASA C-130, measure spectral and broadband radiative flux profiles, quantify surface characteristics, cloud properties, and other atmospheric state parameters under a variety of Arctic atmospheric and surface conditions (including open water, sea ice, and land ice), and coinciding with satellite overpasses when possible.
  2. Acquire detailed measurements of land and sea ice characteristics to help bridge a gap in NASA satellite observations of changing Arctic ice conditions.
  3. Utilize surface-based targets of opportunity to complement ARISE sampling strategies with the NASA C-130, including long-term monitoring stations, research vessels, and other surface and aircraft in-situ measurement campaigns that provide corresponding information on surface conditions, radiation, cloud properties and atmospheric state.

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Page Last Updated: September 17th, 2014
Page Editor: Holly Zell