Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Washington, DC, United States (4E) – Operation IceBridge, NASA’s longest-running airborne mission to observe polar ice change, lately concluded this 12 months’s springtime survey of Arctic sea and land ice. The flights, which started on March 22, lined the western basin of the Arctic Ocean and Greenland’s fastest-changing glaciers.
“This campaign achieved most of our primary objectives in surveying the state of Arctic ice,” stated IceBridge’s performing undertaking scientist Joe MacGregor. “We’ve now flown many of these missions ten years in a row, a period that has included continued rapid change in both Arctic glaciers and sea ice.”
During the primary weeks of the marketing campaign, IceBridge was primarily based in Thule Air Base, in northwest Greenland, and in Fairbanks, Alaska. From these two bases, IceBridge mapped sea ice within the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, and within the central Arctic Ocean in addition to the rapidly evolving Petermann Glacier in northeast Greenland. On Apr. 20, the IceBridge staff relocated to Kangerlussuaq, simply north of the Arctic Circle in central west Greenland, from the place it launched flights to measure land ice.
This Arctic season, IceBridge accomplished most of its sea and land ice baseline flights, that are surveys repeated 12 months after 12 months to observe areas which have been altering quickly over the past a long time. In whole, the marketing campaign included 20 eight-hour flights.
Eight flights targeted on surveying sea ice, whereas the remaining 12 flights focused land ice. Several flights included collaborations with worldwide missions, corresponding to underflights of the ESA’s (European Space Agency) Sentinel-3A and CryoSat-2 satellites over sea ice; overflights of the U.S. Navy’s 2018 ICEX marketing campaign over sea ice north of Alaska and of Danish PROMICE meteorological stations in Greenland, and an intercomparison of radar programs in northeast Greenland with Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute.
IceBridge additionally flew over an uncommon polynya — a gap within the midst of the ocean ice pack — north of Greenland shortly after it had frozen up, and the measurements it collected will assist unravel the evolution of sea ice there.
For this area marketing campaign, IceBridge flew on NASA’s P-Three Orion primarily based at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The aircraft carried a complete instrument suite: a dual-color laser altimeter that measures floor elevation by transmitting each infrared and inexperienced laser pulses, three sorts of radar programs to review ice layers and the bedrock beneath, a high-resolution digital camera to create coloration maps of ice, a hyperspectral imager that takes measurements over a whole lot of wavelengths, and infrared cameras to measure floor temperatures of sea and land ice.
“This was the last IceBridge campaign to occur before the expected launch of ICESat-2 (Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite-2)”, stated Nathan Kurtz, who’s IceBridge’s outgoing undertaking scientist and the brand new deputy undertaking scientist for ICESat-2. “We achieved good coverage of the Arctic sea ice pack, fast changing glacier areas and overflights of 4,550 miles of future ICESat-2 tracks to ensure continuity between multiple altimetry missions over a long time period.”
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