NASA's Arctic IceBridge Campaign Closes With Much Success
April 30, 2013

NASA’s Arctic IceBridge Campaign Closes With Much Success

Lee Rannals for — Your Universe Online

NASA said its Operation IceBridge team has finished up another successful campaign to continue collecting data of Arctic ice measurements.

IceBridge was started in 2009 to help continue and expand a dataset started by NASA's Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) in 2003. During this year's campaign, the team measured sea ice, mapped sub-ice bedrock and gathered data on Greenland's glaciers by flying science missions out of Thule Air Base and Kangerlussuaq in Germany.

During some of the flights, the team studied areas previously measured to help build the existing data record. The team also flew over areas where there was little or no information about sea ice coverage. One of the main areas of interest during the campaign was the Jakobshavn Glacier on Greenland's west coast. Changing locations during the campaign helps to expand IceBridge's reach beyond what is possible from one location.

"This means that we must effectively plan ahead, and that all instrument teams have a smart, efficient way of packing and unpacking their equipment," said Christy Hansen, IceBridge's project manager at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

It also calls for coordination with personnel at three different locations. "We have established three sets of contacts at the various weather offices, established transportation for our team and must work within a varying set of airport requirements and operating hours," said Hansen in a statement.

NASA said its IceBridge mission planners are already looking ahead to this fall's Antarctic campaign. The team's plan is to fly the P-3B out of Antarctica's McMurdo Station to conduct IceBridge surveys from the Antarctic continent itself for the first time. They have been working with the National Science Foundation (NSF) toward getting approval from operations at McMurdo and the final decision will be made over the coming months.

The scientists say their long term plan in Greenland is to scale back the land ice portion of the campaign while maintaining the same coverage of sea ice as in previous campaigns.

“We´re starting to see how the whole ice sheet is changing,” said Michael Studinger, IceBridge project scientist at Goddard.  “Thinning at the margins is now propagating to the interior.”

NASA said data collected during IceBridge is helping to bridge the gap between ICESat 1 and ICESat 2, which is planned to start taking over operations in 2016.