IceBridge Blog

Operation IceBridge Logo

Check our blog for the latest from IceBridge researchers

› Visit IceBridge blog

Connect: IceBridge

RSS logoBlog Twitter logoTwitter Flickr logoFlickr YouTube IconYouTube

Blog de IceBridge - Español

Logo for Science Friday.

Organizado por Maria-José Viñas

› Español blog

IceBridge - Arctic 2012


    NASA's IceBridge Seeking New View of Changing Sea Ice

    The sun reflects over thin sea ice and a few floating ice bergs near the Denmark Strait off of eastern Greenland. › View larger
    The sun reflects over thin sea ice and a few floating ice bergs near the Denmark Strait off of eastern Greenland, as seen from NASA's P-3B aircraft on Apr. 14, 2012. Credit: NASA/Jefferson Beck
    This year scientists working on NASA's Operation IceBridge, a multi-year airborne science mission to study changing ice conditions at both poles, debuted a new data product with the potential to improve Arctic sea ice forecasts.

    Using new data processing techniques, IceBridge scientists were able to release an experimental quick look product before the end of the 2012 Arctic campaign. The main challenge faced when producing data for seasonal forecasts is the time needed to crunch the numbers, something that has in the past taken IceBridge scientists more than six months to do after the data was collected in the spring. This is too late to use for Arctic sea ice forecasts of the annual seasonal minimum, which takes place in September.

    The new product could potentially be used in seasonal sea ice forecasts in the future. "The community is excited about it," said IceBridge science team co-lead Jackie Richter-Menge of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Cold Regions Research Laboratory, Hanover, N.H. "We're hoping to build on this season's momentum and interest."

    Scientists have been keeping an eye on Arctic sea ice in recent years because it is changing and they want to understand what those changes might mean. Arctic sea ice grows and recedes in a seasonal pattern, with a maximum coverage in March and a minimum in September. These high and low points vary from year to year, but there is a clear trend toward smaller minimums that mean more open water in the Arctic each summer and fall. This decrease in ice is already affecting ocean and terrestrial life in the Arctic, accelerating warming in the region and leading to economic and social changes.

    › More...


    Embedded Educators: Teacher Research Experience in Greenland with Operation IceBridge

    The DMS expert explains the instrument to teachers-in-the-field accompanying the IceBridge flight. › View larger
    DMS instrument team member James Jacobson (left) explains the basics of the P-3's Digital Mapping System to teachers Tom Koch Svennesen (top) and Peter Gross (right). Credit: NASA/Jefferson Beck
    In mid-April, scientists working in a remote corner of Greenland on NASA’s Operation IceBridge gave five teachers a taste of what airborne polar science is like and in the process provided the educators with better tools to teach students about science. Through a joint effort with the U.S. Embassy in Denmark, the Danish Education Ministry and the U.S.-based education initiative PolarTREC, IceBridge was joined on April 13 by Erik Jakobsen, from the Aalborg Gymnasium in Aalborg, Denmark; Peter Gross from the Roskilde Tekniske Gymnasium in Roskilde, Denmark; Tom Koch Svennesen, from Aasiaat GU in Aasiaat, Greenland; Sine Madsen from the Building and Construction School in Sisimiut, Greenland; and on April 14 by Tim Spuck, from Oil City High School in Oil City, Penn. PolarTREC is a program funded by the National Science Foundation that works to expand teacher knowledge and student interest in polar science by teaming teachers up with polar researchers.

    › More...


    Home Again: A Record-Breaking Arctic Campaign Comes to a Close

    Lower portion of the Academy Glacier in northwest Greenland covered by fog. › View larger
    Lower portion of the Academy Glacier in northwest Greenland covered by fog. Credit: NASA/Jim Yungel
    While many Americans loaded up their cars and fired up their grills, Operation IceBridge scientists and instrument operators put the finishing touches on a record-breaking Arctic campaign. The NASA P-3 returned to Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Va., on May 24 after spending 11 weeks in the field and completing 44 science flights. The IceBridge team took advantage of good flying conditions, with only one weather cancellation during the campaign, and collected volumes of high-quality data, adding to an extensive scientific record.

    The May 15 mission was part of a sequence of new flights designed to estimate ice flux—the movement of land ice into the ocean—along the northern margin of the Greenland Ice Sheet. By combining measurements of bedrock channel shape with satellite measurements of ice surface velocities, researchers can calculate ice flux. "We should be in a good position to estimate how much ice is being transported through these channels, which is a critical number to have for the overall assessment of how much ice the Greenland Ice Sheet is losing," said IceBridge project scientist Michael Studinger.

    On May 16 the IceBridge team completed the 44th science flight of the 2012 Arctic campaign, a survey of glaciers and ice caps in the Canadian Arctic. The P-3 conducted low-altitude surveys of sites spread over a wide area, such as Ellesmere Island, Axel Heiberg Island and Meighen Island, the Prince of Wales Ice Field and the Agassiz Ice Cap. With what has turned out to be this campaigns signature perfect weather, IceBridge scientists gathered data along lines previously surveyed by the Airborne Topographic Mapper and Center for the Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets teams in 1995, 2000 and 2005, and by IceBridge last year. These repeated flights give researchers a record of change covering a long time span for the area.

    The May 16 survey marked the end of science flights for the Arctic campaign. After a few days to wrap things up and prepare the P-3 for its return to Wallops, the IceBridge team loaded up and returned home on May 24. The next several days will be spent downloading and organizing instrument data and getting some well-deserved rest. Thanks to good weather and the tireless work of scientists, pilots and flight crew, IceBridge carried out a record number of flights and collected high-quality data that is freely available to the public. "IceBridge will have a long-lasting effect on polar sciences," said Studinger.


    Breaking Records and Looking Ahead

    Frozen fjord along northeast coast of Greenland. › View larger
    Frozen fjord along northeast coast of Greenland as seen from the P-3 on May 14, 2012. Credit: NASA/Jim Yungel
    With fewer than two weeks left in the Arctic campaign, Operation IceBridge has surpassed last year's record number of science flight hours due to an almost total lack of weather cancellations and aircraft issues. This week saw several high priority science flights, coordination with other research aircraft and the closing of the Falcon jet's first IceBridge deployment.

    On May 9, the P-3 took off on a survey that continued a mapping effort begun in 2010. This survey along the coast of Baffin Bay in northwest Greenland extended a coast-parallel grid and gathered outlet glacier bed topography and fjord bathymetry using the gravimeter. This area of Greenland is of particular interest to IceBridge because of changes in the ice. "We know from GRACE measurements that the area is not only changing, but that the rate of change is accelerating," said IceBridge project scientist Michael Studinger.

    The following day, the IceBridge team took advantage of a small cloud free area that closely matched the location and size of one of the planned high priority survey of Cape Alexander and broke the 300 hour barrier. The presence of a BT-67 aircraft working with the joint U.S. / U.K. science operation known as GROGG in the area added an extra layer of planning to this flight, requiring the two aircraft to coordinate flight plans.

    May 9 and 10 saw continued surveys of existing Airborne Topographic Mapper and ICESat tracks and new Land, Vegetation and Ice Sensor lines by the Falcon jet out of Kangerlussuaq. With the May 10 flight, the Falcon closed out its deployment in Greenland, netting an impressive amount of data. This year the Falcon flew more than 22,000 miles and LVIS surveyed nearly 20,000 square miles of Arctic ice.

    May 11 saw clear skies over most of northern Greenland, meaning a large number of potential missions. On this flight, the P-3 measured historic ATM lines and ICESat tracks and overflew the site of a B-29 wreck near Petermann Glacier. This plane, named Kee Bird, crashed in 1947 and was the subject of a 1996 NOVA special on its repair attempt. The plane caught fire and was destroyed when taxiing before takeoff.

    After a weekend to rest, IceBridge returned to the air on May 14 with a newly designed survey that extends the coverage of the Northeast Ice Stream along ICESat ground tracks. This flight adds to an existing data set that will be useful for ICESat-2 simulation and will improve understanding of this part of the Greenland ice sheet.

    On May 15, the P-3 carried out an IceBridge classic, the Northwest Glaciers mission. "It is a mission that we have flown previously in 2009, 2010 and 2011," Studinger said. Following the same lines year after year has allowed IceBridge scientists to build a good data set on mass loss and changes in glacier thickness in northwest Greenland.

    As this deployment comes to an end, the IceBridge team is already hard at work planning the Antarctic deployment based in Punta Arenas, Chile, scheduled for October and November. And with more than 350 science flight hours logged and terabytes of data collected, this year's Arctic campaign is proving to be one for the record books.


    A Third Time Around

    Frozen melt-water lake along the northeast Greenland coast. › View larger
    Frozen melt-water lake along the northeast Greenland coast seen from the P-3 on May 7. Credit: NASA/Jim Yungel
    Operation IceBridge's relocation to Thule proved to have little effect on the momentum this year's campaign has had thus far, with the P-3 now having flown the equivalent of three times around the Earth. The team collected a small amount of data during the transit flight despite low clouds obscuring more than 75 percent of the route, and arrived in Thule to find their carefully packed cargo waiting in the hangar, courtesy of the 109th Airlift Wing.

    After a day to unpack and set up ground instruments, the IceBridge team returned to the air on May 4 with hopes of carrying out a joint survey of the Devon Ice Cap with the European Space Agency's CryoVEx field team and Danish Technical University Twin Otter. But low clouds over Devon Island led to a change in plans and instead the P-3 flew a survey of glaciers in northern Greenland. On the same day the Falcon, now based in Kangerlussuaq, flew a repeat survey of the Helheim Glacier's drainage basin.

    Thule airbase was closed on May 5 and 6, leading to a no-fly day and hard down day for the P-3, while the Falcon flew a survey of the Qajuuttap Glacier and ICESat lines in southern Greenland on May 5.

    IceBridge got a running start on May 7 with a newly designed Northeast Grid mission, one of six flights meant to examine bedrock topography in northeast Greenland. The laser altimetry data collected along the survey tracks will allow calculations of changes in the ice over a broad area. The LVIS team in the Falcon conducted a grid survey in southeast Greenland, surveying previous ATM lines, ICESAT orbits, new LVIS tracks and a glacier flow line.

    May 7 also saw the arrival of a BT-67 in Qaanaaq, Greenland, on its way to work on the joint U.K. / U.S. GROGG project out of Station Nord. The BT-67 and the P-3 will coordinate flights over the next couple of weeks to avoid interfering with each other. "We have a significant overlap in science targets between IceBridge and GROGG here in the northern part of Greenland," said IceBridge project scientist Michael Studinger.

    On May 8 the P-3 conducted the second of the six grid flights in the northeast. Like many of the flights toward the end of a campaign this flight was similar to the one on the previous day with the exception of unexpected turbulence over the mountains on the east coast.

    Currently IceBridge has used more than 90 percent of its approved flight hours, which Studinger says "shows that this deployment is going extremely well." IceBridge scientists in the field and in the lab are also busy at work with data from the current campaign and will soon hope to have a published product using that data.

    For more on the role weather plays in IceBridge's daily life, visit the IceBridge blog.


    Adios Kanger

    Town of Ilulissat, Greenland, as seen from the P-3 on its way to Thule. › View larger
    Town of Ilulissat, Greenland, as seen from the P-3 on its way to Thule. Credit: NASA/Jim Yungel
    As the Kangerlussuaq portion of the 2012 Arctic campaign comes to a close, the IceBridge team looks forward to the remaining weeks with optimism as the P-3 returns to Thule and a new aircraft joins the efforts. A NASA HU-25C Falcon jet from NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va, brings the laser altimeter, LVIS, to Greenland to carry out high-altitude surveys.

    IceBridge closes out its time in Kangerlussuaq with an end to a streak of good weather. After many days with clear skies in various parts of Greenland, bad weather moved in, covering virtually all of the country. But these clouds had a silver lining. IceBridge scientists try to take advantage of every clear day they can get, and as a result were fast approaching the limit of allowable flight hours for the month. A weather cancellation on April 26 and a scheduled no-fly day on April 27 gave everyone a chance to rest and catch up on work that had been piling up, IceBridge project scientist Michael Studinger said.

    On April 28, the P-3 flew a turbulent survey of glaciers in southeast Greenland, and the Falcon carried out its first flight out of Thule, a survey of sea ice south of Devon Island, Canada, with a return leg over the Devon Ice Cap. On this flight, the Falcon measured ice surface elevation from an altitude of 28,000 feet, with a total mission length of just over 1,400 miles.

    On April 30, the weather over most of southern Greenland was unfavorable, forcing a change to the planned survey of the Umanag and Sarqardliupsermia glaciers. After waiting for a while on the ramp at Kangerlussuaq for visibility to improve, the P-3 took off and conducted a grid survey of outlet glaciers on the west coast and did a magnetic compensation box before landing. The Falcon carried out a high-altitude land-ice survey in northern Greenland on the same day.

    May 1 was a no-fly day for IceBridge personnel in Kangerlussuaq, who packed up ground station equipment, computers and spare parts to be flown to Thule by the U.S. Air National Guard’s 109th Airlift Wing. On May 2, IceBridge personnel made a science transit flight to Thule to begin the final leg of the 2012 Arctic campaign. After unpacking and setting up GPS ground stations, the IceBridge team will resume flights out of Thule to finish out the Arctic campaign, which ends on May 25.


    NASA Langley Aircraft Joins Operation IceBridge

    NASA HU-25C aircraft › View larger
    NASA Langley's HU-25C research airplane takes off from the adjacent Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Va. Credit: NASA/Sean Smith
    A NASA research airplane took wing today for Greenland, where it is joining an extensive airborne survey of Earth's polar ice.

    NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., deployed its newly acquired HU-25C Guardian jet as part of NASA's Operation IceBridge.

    IceBridge will yield an unprecedented three-dimensional view of the rapidly changing features of Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets, ice shelves and sea ice. Studies by NASA and others generally show that Earth’s polar ice is shrinking as temperatures are rising globally, with many long-term climate impacts.

    The multi-year mission, which began in 2009, has been using airborne instruments to map Arctic and Antarctic areas once a year and is led by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

    IceBridge flights are conducted March through May over Greenland and in October-November over Antarctica. Other smaller airborne surveys around the world are also part of the campaign.

    › More...


    One Half Down, One Half to Go

    A view of western Greenland's Disko Bay from the air. › View larger
    A view of western Greenland's Disko Bay from the air. Credit: NASA/Jim Yungel
    April 18 marked the mid-point of what has so far been a highly successful 2012 Arctic campaign. Continued good weather has allowed the IceBridge team to carry out a record number of flights, with the bulk of the high-priority planned glacier surveys on Greenland's east coast completed. This year, Operation IceBridge had managed 26 flights by day 42 of the campaign, one better than the previous record of 25 set last year.

    The April 18 flight was a combination survey of areas missed in two previous flights that were cut short due to mechanical concerns—the April 14 and April 17 surveys of the Helheim and Kangerdlugssuaq glacier areas on Greenland's east coast. This also marked the final day to fly for the teachers from Greenland and Denmark, with everyone getting one more flight experience in. Meanwhile back in Kangerlussuaq, four journalists--two from Greenland and two from Denmark--were arriving to spend a few days with the IceBridge team.

    The east coast remained clear again on April 19, leading to another coast parallel grid survey of glaciers. On this flight, reporters from Nuuk, Greenland, rode along.

    On April 20, the dominant weather patterns shifted and the P-3 flew a survey of glaciers on the southwest coast. On this flight, a Danish radio reporter conducted a live broadcast via satellite phone.

    April 21 saw another clear day on the west coast that allowed IceBridge scientists to carry out their much-anticipated survey of Disko Bay and the Jakobshavn glacier.

    Sunday, April 22, was a hard down day for crew rest, and the team took advantage of this rare day off by celebrating their accomplishments with a group dinner. With the number of flight hours IceBridge has logged so far, another rest day will be required soon to keep under the 30 day flight hour limit.


    Surveying Glaciers and Hosting Teachers

    Glaciers in the Helheim Glacier region of eastern Greenland. › View larger
    Glaciers in the Helheim Glacier region of eastern Greenland. Credit: NASA/Jim Yungel
    With the return of the P-3 from Wallops and a successful sea ice flight and link up with MABEL, Operation IceBridge has started working to survey glaciers. The first glacier flight of the campaign, a survey of glaciers on the east coast of Greenland north of Scoresby Sund with a pass over an ICESat calibration and validation site at Summit Camp, Greenland, kicked off April 11. Weather concerns led to this flight being chosen the morning of, which means the technicians at Summit had far less time than usual to prepare their ground instruments. "Luckily, the Summit techs Adam and Christy were able to prepare the measurements on short notice," said IceBridge project scientist Michael Studinger. "We observed the team on the ground while flying overhead."

    After traversing the ice sheet, the P-3 surveyed the centerlines of the DeGeer, Jaette, Nordenskiold, Wahlenberg, Violin and Nord glaciers. Thanks to weather patterns that have been keeping the eastern half of Greenland clear and the western half cloudy, following surveys so far have concentrated on areas in the east such as the Helheim and Kangerdlugssuaq glaciers and the Geikie peninsula. Geikie was particularly interesting to IceBridge scientists because many of the glaciers there are surge glaciers—masses of ice that rapidly grow and recede over just a few years. This means that just one or two readings, depending on when they are taken, might not give an accurate portrayal of what's happening there, so repeated measurements are necessary.

    Teachers from Denmark and Greenland-- Erik Jakobsen, Peter Gross, Tom Koch Svennesen and Sine Madsen--arrived in Kangerlussuaq on April 13 to participate in Operation IceBridge. They were joined the following day by Oil City, Penn., high school science teacher Tim Spuck, who comes to IceBridge by way of the National Science Foundation's PolarTREC program. These five educators spent several days embedded with the IceBridge, living in the KISS facility, learning from IceBridge personnel and flying on the P-3. These educators are interested in polar science and intend to this experience and the knowledge they gain to improve their students' education by better understanding polar science.

    For more about IceBridge's teaching guests, visit the IceBridge blog.

    › Follow teacher Tim Spuck's blog


    A New Home and a New Engine

    The newly repaired P-3 shortly after arriving at Kangerlussuaq International Airport in Greenland. › View larger
    The newly repaired P-3 shortly after arriving at Kangerlussuaq International Airport on April 9. Credit: NASA/George Hale
    Last week, IceBridge scientists and crew wrapped up the first round of survey flights from Thule and moved their base of operations south to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland. That day, everyone loaded up the P-3 and took off with the idea of flying one more day of surveys along their way. Although able to gather some data, these survey plans were cut short due to mechanical issues with one of the P-3's engines.

    The campaign thus far had been an outstanding success, but such a record can't stand forever. On the morning of April 4 the IceBridge P-3 took off from Thule, but later in the day, a performance issue with one of the P-3's engines caused pilots to shut it down and divert straight to Kangerlussuaq. Once there it was determined that the plane would need to return to Wallops for an engine replacement, which would put a hold on flights for several days. The silver lining to this delay, though, is that scientists would have a few days to work on piles of amassed data and get some well-deserved rest.

    "The amount of flying that is involved in an IceBridge campaign and the harsh environment will eventually take their toll on any aircraft," said IceBridge project scientist Michael Studinger. "These things are part of our operation and are pretty much unavoidable."

    Back in the Saddle

    That Friday, IceBridge pilots flew the P-3 back to Wallops on only three engines. After a weekend of hard work, the P-3 was as ready for action as the people in Kangerlussuaq were to get back in the air. On April 9, the P-3 returned to a snowy Kangerlussuaq from Wallops with a new engine, carrying scientific gear and passengers.

    Monday evening's science meeting laid out the plans for Tuesday. Clouds over most of Greenland were making ice sheet flights look unlikely, so the plan was a long sea ice flight off the east coast of Greenland, with plans for a MABEL underflight. Every campaign has a sizeable bank of planned survey flights to allow for changes in plans when weather won't cooperate.

    Bright and early on a chilly 12 degree Tuesday morning, the IceBridge P-3 returned to service with all seats filled. Somewhere near the east coast of Greenland, just over two hours into the flight we got word that the ER-2 carrying MABEL is overhead at an altitude of 60,000 feet. The ER-2 turned south at the northern end of the survey track and overflew the P-3 while it was still on the north track. A while later, the P-3 reached the north end of the track and turned back south, this time flying at a higher altitude of 3,000 feet to survey a larger area of ice.

    The next round of flights will aim at surveying glaciers, meaning curvier tracks and potentially more turbulence for scientists and crew aboard the P-3. At the end of the week, IceBridge will be joined by teachers from Greenland, Denmark and the United States.


    International Cooperation Is Key in Joint Multi-Plane Mission

    Arctic sea-ice as seen from the window of the NASA P-3. › View larger
    Arctic sea-ice as viewed from the NASA P-3B. Credit: NASA/Michael Studinger
    A century ago the world watched as two competing expeditions led by Sir Robert Falcon Scott and Roald Amundsen raced to the South Pole. Such competition was commonplace in polar exploration at the time. But today, polar science stands in stark contrast, with research done not in a competitive state of mind, but in the spirit of cooperation. One example of this international cooperation is a joint effort by scientists from NASA and the European Space Agency to verify measurements made by ESA's ice-monitoring satellite, CryoSat-2. Data from CryoSat-2 has allowed scientists to create detailed maps of sea-ice thickness and ocean circulation in the Arctic.

    This campaign, known as CryoVEx, involves flying instrument laden planes along CryoSat orbit tracks over the Arctic Ocean and then comparing the data gathered by low flying aircraft and the satellite 700 km (435 miles) overhead. "This collaboration is a fine example of what can be accomplished when many nations and organizations team up instead of competing with each other," said IceBridge project scientist Michael Studinger.

    The IceBridge P-3 has carried out many survey flights over CryoSat tracks this year, but the most noteworthy flights happened on March 29, the 100th anniversary of Scott's death, and April 2. On these flights, the P-3 joined forces with a Twin Otter from the Technical University of Denmark and a Basler BT-67 from the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany. The Twin Otter carried a laser scanner and ASIRAS, an airborne version of the radar altimeter aboard CryoSat-2, and the BT-67 was equipped with a laser scanner, cameras and a towed electromagnetic sensor called an EM bird.

    Getting three aircraft to fly over the same swath of ice only a short time after a satellite passes miles overhead can be challenging. "Flying joint multi-plane missions is a rather daunting task," said CryoVEx scientist Malcolm Davidson. Even when navigation goes perfectly, there can still be problems due to the unpredictable Arctic weather or mechanical glitches. The teams had excellent weather, but the BT-67 flight crew faced troubles with their EM bird that kept them from joining both flights.

    Even without BT-67, the joint survey was a big success and resulted in large amounts of data. It would be easy to view such a success as ordinary, but Studinger warns against this. "It is easy to lose sight of how difficult this whole undertaking really is and how this success is not because it is easy, but because of the skill and experience of all involved," Studinger said.

    This marks the close of another year of NASA/ESA collaboration in CryoVEx. Even with the end of this part of the campaign, the spirit of cooperation carries on. NASA and ESA researchers are planning joint efforts to analyze the data they've collected and keeping an eye on the future for more chances to work together.

    Read more about NASA / ESA collaboration here:


    Bad Weather Leads to Early Arctic Basin Crossing

    The NASA P-3 being prepared for a Beaufort Sea survey flight on a chilly morning in Fairbanks, Alaska. › View larger
    The NASA P-3 being prepared for a Beaufort Sea survey flight on a chilly morning in Fairbanks, Alaska. Credit: NASA/M. Studinger
    Last week, IceBridge scientists carried out what are considered the most important sea ice flights of the Arctic campaign: crossing the Arctic Basin from Greenland to Alaska. This year's Arctic Basin flights came earlier than previous years thanks to the weather. "Every year, blizzards with wind speeds of over 100 miles per hour and white out conditions lock us down for a few days," said Michael Studinger, IceBridge project scientist.

    On March 14, the P-3 made the long flight from Thule, Greenland to Fairbanks, Alaska, gathering sea ice data along the way. IceBridge scientists then spent the next few days flying survey missions over ice in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. "This is a new area for IceBridge and an important data set to monitor changes in the Arctic environment," Studinger said.

    With three additional days' worth of sea ice data, the P-3 made its return flight to Thule early on March 19. In addition to conducting one more sea ice flight than originally expected, the IceBridge team also gained a flight day compared to what they would have had in Thule due to weekend closures there. After a no-fly day for aircraft and instrument maintenance, scientists and crew resumed sea ice flights out of Thule on March 21.

    Read more about the Arctic Basin sea ice surveys here:


    NASA's IceBridge 2012 Arctic Campaign Takes to the Skies

    NASA's P-3B is pulled from the hanger onto the frozen runway at Thule, Greenland. › View larger
    Dawn over the P-3B and the Thule airport tower. Credit: NASA/Jim Yungel Credit:NASA/Jim Yingel
    GREENBELT, Md. -- Researchers and flight crew with NASA's Operation IceBridge, an airborne mission to study changes in polar ice, began another season of science activity with the start of the 2012 Arctic campaign on March 13. From mid-March through mid-May, a modified P-3 from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Va., will conduct daily missions out of Thule and Kangerlussuaq, Greenland —with one flight to Fairbanks, Alaska and back—to measure sea and land ice. The campaign will also feature instrument tests, continued international collaboration and educational activities.

    After NASA's Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite's (ICESat) stopped collecting data in 2009, Operation IceBridge began as a way to continue the multi-year record of ice elevation measurements until the launch of ICESat-2 in 2016. IceBridge gathers data during annual campaigns over the Arctic starting in March and Antarctic starting in October.

    IceBridge flights will measure both previously surveyed sites, such as Greenland's Jakobshavn Glacier, and unstudied areas of sea ice, such as the Beaufort Sea north of Alaska. "The most important sea ice flights are the transits between Thule and Fairbanks," said IceBridge project scientist Michael Studinger.

    › More...

    Visit the blog for updates throughout the campaign,
    and follow @NASA_ICE for mission tweets.


    Getting Ready for the 2012 Arctic Campaign

    OIB P3 under preparation for the Arctic 2012 field campaign. › View larger
    The P-3B aircraft inside the hangar at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Credit:NASA/Michael Studinger.
    From Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, VA – Welcome to the fourth annual Arctic campaign with NASA's Operation IceBridge. Over 75 days, we will collect data with two aircraft over the Greenland Ice Sheet, the Arctic Ocean and the Canadian ice caps. We will be based in Kangerlussuaq and Thule Airbase in Greenland, and in Fairbanks, Alaska for sea ice flights over the Beaufort Sea.

    During the past several weeks, Operation IceBridge teams have worked at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on the eastern shore of Virginia, installing cutting-edge laser altimeters and extremely sensitive radars that will allow us to measure changes in sea ice thickness in the Arctic Ocean.

    ›

Arctic 2012 Campaign

    Greenland/Alaska/Canada 2012
    March 12 - May 25

    Operation IceBridge Logo

Image Gallery

IceBridge Flight Tracker

More IceBridge Multimedia

    SVS superimposed on an ice field image

    View and download IceBridge edited features, animations, footage and more from the Scientific Visualization Studio at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
More from the SVS