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Operation IceBridge Reveals Changing Antarctic Ice
11.03.11
 

Multimedia Files in Support of the Operation IceBridge Media Day


A close-up image of the crack spreading across the ice shelf of Pine Island Glacier shows the details of the boulder-like blocks of ice that fell into the rift when it split. › View larger
A close-up image of the crack spreading across the ice shelf of Pine Island Glacier shows the details of the boulder-like blocks of ice that fell into the rift when it split. For most of the 18-mile stretch of the crack that NASA’s DC-8 flew over on Oct. 26, 2011, it stretched about 240 feet wide, as roughly seen here. The deepest points ranged from about 165 to 190 feet, roughly equal to the top of the ice shelf down to sea level. Scientists expect the crack to propagate and the ice shelf to calve an iceberg of more than 300 square miles in the coming months. This image was captured by the Digital Mapping System (DMS) aboard the DC-8. Credit: NASA/DMS
PUNTA ARENAS, CHILE – NASA's airborne expedition over Antarctica this October and November has measured the change in glaciers vital to sea level rise projections and mapped others rarely traversed by humans.

Operation IceBridge, nearing completion of its third year, is the largest airborne campaign ever flown over the world's polar regions. Bridging a gap between two ice elevation mapping satellites, and breaking new scientific ground on its own, IceBridge this fall has charted the continued rapid acceleration and mass loss of Pine Island Glacier. The mission has also flown under the track of the European CryoSat-2 while measuring sea ice conditions in order to compare data sets from each.

› Link to Media Advisory
› Link to Associated Media
› Link to Feature Story


Speakers/Presenters

  • Michael Studinger, IceBridge project scientist, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
  • Walter Klein, IceBridge mission director, NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center

› Download PDF of presentation






Visual: 1
NASA's Operation IceBridge is currently flying a nearly two-month campaign from a base of operations in Punta Arenas, Chile over the changing glaciers, ice sheets and sea ice of Antarctica. › View larger


NASA's Operation IceBridge is currently flying a nearly two-month campaign from a base of operations in Punta Arenas, Chile over the changing glaciers, ice sheets and sea ice of Antarctica. Credit: NASA/M. Studinger


 

Visual: 2
IceBridge provides the "bridge" between two key satellite records - the measurements of ice elevation from ICESat-1 and similar measurements from ICESat-2, set to launch in 2016. IceBridge also provides comparison data for the European CryoSat-2 mission. › View larger


IceBridge provides the “bridge” between two key satellite records — the measurements of ice elevation from ICESat-1 and similar measurements from ICESat-2, set to launch in 2016. IceBridge also provides comparison data for the European CryoSat-2 mission. Credit: NASA/M. Studinger
 

Visual: 3
The amount of increase in global sea level rise, from the expansion of warming water and the loss of ice sheets, changes year to year but remains on a steady upward trend. › View larger


The amount of increase in global sea level rise, from the expansion of warming water and the loss of ice sheets, changes year to year but remains on a steady upward trend. Credit: Mitchum and Nerem
 

Visual: 4
As demonstrated by Eric Steig et al in Nature in 2009, temperatures in West Antarctica are warming faster than the rest of the continent. › View larger


As demonstrated by Eric Steig et al in Nature in 2009, temperatures in West Antarctica are warming faster than the rest of the continent. Credit: Eric Steig et al
 

Visual: 5
NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite has seen significant loss of mass from the ice sheets of West Antarctica in the past decade. IceBridge measurements also bear out these changes. › View larger


NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite has seen significant loss of mass from the ice sheets of West Antarctica in the past decade. IceBridge measurements also bear out these changes. Credit: NASA/GSFC/Scott Luthcke
 

Visual: 6
The Antarctica 2011 campaign includes two planes and six total instruments which measure ice thickness, the shape of the bedrock, surface topography, the shape of the seafloor under ice shelves and the depth of snow on top of sea ice. › View larger


The Antarctica 2011 campaign includes two planes and six total instruments which measure ice thickness, the shape of the bedrock, surface topography, the shape of the seafloor under ice shelves and the depth of snow on top of sea ice. Credit: NASA/M. Studinger
 

Visual: 7
One of the laser altimeters — the Airborne Topographic Mapper (ATM) — provides year-to-year change data by repeating the exact same flight lines from previous years. › View larger


One of the laser altimeters - the Airborne Topographic Mapper (ATM) - provides year-to-year change data by repeating the exact same flight lines from previous years. Credit: NASA/M. Studinger
 

Visual: 8
Flight crews based at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center, Palmdale, Cal., oversee the DC-8’s flights. › View larger


Flight crews based at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, Palmdale, Cal., oversee the DC-8's flights. Credit: NASA/M. Studinger
 

Visual: 9
The mission manager station reveals the many airborne science campaigns the plane has flown over the years with a sticker from each. › View larger


The mission manager station reveals the many airborne science campaigns the plane has flown over the years with a sticker from each. Credit: NASA/M. Studinger
 

Visual: 10
The ATM sits in the belly of the plane. The instrument’s conically scanner laser rotates 360 degrees 20 times per second, while firing 3,000 laser pulses per second. › View larger


The ATM sits in the belly of the plane. The instrument’s conically scanner laser rotates 360 degrees 20 times per second, while firing 3,000 laser pulses per second. Credit: NASA/M. Studinger
 

Visual: 11
The multiple radars are installed on the plane specifically for the measurements needed in this campaign. › View larger


The multiple radars are installed on the plane specifically for the measurements needed in this campaign. Credit: NASA/M. Studinger
 

Visual: 12
A picture of the fairing that holds the radar which measurements the thickness of ice sheets and the shape of the bedrock under the ice sheets. › View larger


A picture of the fairing that holds the radar which measurements the thickness of ice sheets and the shape of the bedrock under the ice sheets. Credit: NASA/M. Studinger
 

Visual: 13
A flight track map from an early Antarctica 2011 flight over the Weddell Sea. This flight was designed to fly exactly along the orbit path of CryoSat-2 in order to compare the two data sets for accuracy and additional information. › View larger


A flight track map from an early Antarctica 2011 flight over the Weddell Sea. This flight was designed to fly exactly along the orbit path of CryoSat-2 in order to compare the two data sets for accuracy and additional information. Credit: NASA/M. Studinger
 

Visual: 14
A close-up look from the DC-8 window at an altitude of 1,500 feet of the floating sea ice in the Weddell Sea. › View larger


A close-up look from the DC-8 window at an altitude of 1,500 feet of the floating sea ice in the Weddell Sea. Credit: NASA/M. Studinger
 

Visual: 15
A view of ATM data from the same flight — see how the scarred surface of the sea ice visible in the photo reveals itself as surface elevation data in the ATM scan. › View larger


A view of ATM data from the same flight — see how the scarred surface of the sea ice visible in the photo reveals itself as surface elevation data in the ATM scan. Credit: NASA/ATM Team
 

Visual: 16
A "snow radar" onboard is the first instrument to ever measure the thickness of snow on top of sea ice from a plane. › View larger


A "snow radar" onboard built at the University of Kansas is the first instrument to ever measure the thickness of snow on top of sea ice from a plane. This is important because scientists can determine how thick the ice, as opposed to the snow on top, really is, and because snow acts as an insulator and can determine how quickly ice melts. Credit: Ben Panzer/CReSIS U Kansas
 

Visual: 17
An image showing three years of flight tracks from two different planes reveals how layering these same flight lines on top of one another will give scientists key data about how ice changes from year to year. › View larger


An image showing three years of flight tracks from two different planes reveals how layering these same flight lines on top of one another will give scientists key data about how ice - in this case Pine Island Glacier, which is losing 46 gigatons of mass each year - changes from year to year. Credit: NASA/M. Studinger
 

Visual: 18
This animation shows glacier changes detected by ATM, ICESat and ice bridge data in the highly dynamic Amundsen Embayment of West Antarctica. Credit: NASA/GSFC/Jefferson Beck
› Play/Download video
 

Visual: 19
During two flights in October, the IceBridge team discovered and then more thoroughly investigated a rift opening up across the ice shelf of Pine Island Glacier. › View larger


During two flights in October, the IceBridge team discovered and then more thoroughly investigated a rift opening up across the ice shelf of Pine Island Glacier. The glacier hasn't calved a major iceberg since 2001, and no one has ever made such detailed observations of a calving rift's size and shape. Credit: NASA/M. Studinger
 

Visual: 20
After it was brought to attention by the IceBridge team, scientists were able to take a bird's-eye-view look at the ice shelf crack using satellite imagery. › View larger


After it was brought to attention by the IceBridge team, scientists were able to take a bird’s-eye-view look at the ice shelf crack using satellite imagery. Credit: Dana Floricioiu (DLR)
 

Visual: 21
An image from the onboard Digital Mapping System (DMS), which takes downward-looking photos every two seconds, offers a close-up look at the crack's details and size. › View larger


An image from the onboard Digital Mapping System (DMS), which takes downward-looking photos every two seconds, offers a close-up look at the crack’s details and size. Credit: NASA/DMS Team
 

Visual: 22
A 3-D iteration of ATM's data of the rift, with an illustration using the Statue of Liberty for comparison of its depth and width. › View larger


A 3-D iteration of ATM's data of the rift, with an illustration using the Statue of Liberty for comparison of its depth and width (this scale was created using one of the rift's widest points; it was about 80 meters wide in most places when the DC-8 flew over it on Oct. 26, 2011). Credit: ATM Team
 

Visual: 23
Please read more about IceBridge or find IceBridge data at these websites. › View larger


Please read more about IceBridge or find IceBridge data at these websites. Credit: NASA/M. Studinger
 



Additional Media


Visual: 24
Map of Antarctica generated by Landsat. › View larger


Operation IceBridge, from its base of operations in Punta Arenas, Chile, can fly to certain regions of West Antarctica and to the Coats Land region of East Antarctica. Credit: NASA/LIMA
 

Visual: 25
A map of all the Antarctic 2011 flight lines to date, with the DC-8's flights in yellow and the Gulfstream-V's flights in orange. › View larger


A map of all the Antarctic 2011 flight lines to date, with the DC-8’s flights in yellow and the Gulfstream-V’s flights in orange. Credit: NASA/M. Studinger