Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

NASA Begins Sixth Year of Airborne Antarctic Ice Change Study

17.10.2014

NASA is carrying out its sixth consecutive year of Operation IceBridge research flights over Antarctica to study changes in the continent’s ice sheet, glaciers and sea ice. This year’s airborne campaign, which began its first flight Thursday morning, will revisit a section of the Antarctic ice sheet that recently was found to be in irreversible decline.

For the next several weeks, researchers will fly aboard NASA’s DC-8 research aircraft out of Punta Arenas, Chile. This year also marks the return to western Antarctica following 2013’s campaign based at the National Science Foundation’s McMurdo Station.


NASA’s DC-8 research aircraft will be flying scientists and instruments over Antarctica to study changes in the continent’s ice sheet, glaciers and sea ice.

Image Credit: NASA

“We are curious to see how much these glaciers have changed in two years,” said Eric Rignot, IceBridge science team co-lead and glaciologist at the University of California, Irvine and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

IceBridge will use a suite of instruments that includes a laser altimeter, radar instruments, cameras, and a gravimeter, which is an instrument that detects small changes in gravity. These small changes reveal how much mass these glaciers have lost. Repeated annual measurements of key glaciers maintains a long-term record of change in the Antarctic that goes back to NASA’s Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) which stopped collecting data in 2009.

IceBridge researchers plan to measure previously unsurveyed regions of Antarctica. One example is a plan to look at the upper portions of Smith Glacier in West Antarctica, which is thinning faster than any other glaciers in the region. The mission also plans to collect data in portions of the Antarctic Peninsula, such as the Larsen C, George VI and Wilkins ice shelves and the glaciers that drain into them. The Antarctic Peninsula has been warming faster than the rest of the continent.

“The Antarctic Peninsula is changing fairly rapidly and we need to be there to capture that change,” said Michael Studinger, IceBridge project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The mission also will collect data on Antarctic sea ice, which recently reached a record high coverage. This contrasts with declining sea ice in the Arctic and is due do a variety of factors such as changing wind patterns. Antarctic sea ice coverage is slightly above average and the growth varies from one part of Antarctica to another. For example, ice cover in the Bellingshausen Sea has been decreasing while ice in the nearby Ross Sea is growing.

“There are very strong regional variations on how sea ice is changing,” said Nathan Kurtz, a sea ice scientist at Goddard. These regional trends together yield a small increase, so studying each region will help scientists get a better grasp on the processes affecting sea ice there.

In addition to extending ICESat’s data record over land and sea ice, IceBridge will also help set the stage for ICESat-2 by measuring ice the satellite will fly over. One of IceBridge’s highest priority surveys is a circular flight the DC-8 will fly around the South Pole at 88 degrees south latitude. This latitude line is where all of ICESat-2’s orbits will converge in the Southern Hemisphere. Measuring ice elevation at these locations will help researchers build a time series of data that spans more than a decade and provide a way to help verify ICESat-2’s data.

IceBridge’s Antarctic field campaign will run through late November. The IceBridge project science office is based at Goddard. The DC-8 research aircraft is based at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center’s facility in Palmdale, California.

For more about Operation IceBridge, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/icebridge

NASA monitors Earth's vital signs from land, air and space with a fleet of satellites and ambitious airborne and ground-based observation campaigns. NASA develops new ways to observe and study Earth's interconnected natural systems with long-term data records and computer analysis tools to better see how our planet is changing. The agency shares this unique knowledge with the global community and works with institutions in the United States and around the world that contribute to understanding and protecting our home planet.

For more information about NASA's recent Earth science activities, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/earthrightnow

Steve Cole
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-0918
stephen.e.cole@nasa.gov

George Hale
Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
301-614-5853
george.r.hale@nasa.gov

George Hale | Eurek Alert!

Further reports about: Antarctic Antarctica DC-8 GLACIERS Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt IceBridge NASA Peninsula sea ice

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Six-decade-old space mystery solved with shoebox-sized satellite called a CubeSat
15.12.2017 | National Science Foundation

nachricht NSF-funded researchers find that ice sheet is dynamic and has repeatedly grown and shrunk
15.12.2017 | National Science Foundation

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Engineers program tiny robots to move, think like insects

15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

One in 5 materials chemistry papers may be wrong, study suggests

15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists

15.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>