Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists Confront The Challenges Of The Arctic In Support Of ESA’s Ice Mission

30.06.2004


Camping out, for anything up to two months, on vast ice sheets in the Arctic is just one of the challenges scientists faced performing the first of a series of six validation experiments in support of ESA’s CryoSat mission.



CryoSat will be the first Earth Explorer to be launched as part of ESA’s Living Planet Programme. Due for launch at the end of this year, it will measure changes in the elevation of ice sheets and sea ice with unprecedented accuracy in order to determine whether or not our planet’s ice masses are thinning due to global warming.

This series of validation experiments are crucial to ensuring that the mission runs smoothly and that the aims of the mission are achieved. Carrying out experiments in the harsh conditions of the Arctic is always punishing, and this first validation campaign, which has just been completed, proved no exception as scientists had to overcome a number of unique challenges.


One of the challenges the scientists faced was the sheer scale of the experiment. It included research scientists from over five different countries and different institutes, all participating in a coordinated measurement program that was to be conducted on the ground as well as from aircraft.

The ground experiments were carried out in remote, and sometimes inhospitable, areas on some of the main ice sheets in the north of Canada, Greenland and Norway. In addition, an aircraft managed by the Alfred Wegner Institute (AWI) in Germany, carried out surveys over each of the in-situ sites using both the ESA radar-altimeter ASIRAS, to simulate CryoSat measurements, and a laser scanner to support the interpretation of the radar measurements. Additional laser measurements were also taken from an Air Greenland plane managed by KMS of Denmark. This plane, equipped with skis so that it was capable of landing on snow and ice, also supported the ground crews in Greenland.

"At this scale, with each of the field teams isolated on the ice, separated from each other by hundreds of kilometres , the key to a successful validation campaign lay in organisation and coordination”, says Malcolm Davidson, ESA’s Validation Manager for CryoSat. “Through a series of planning meetings, at ESA, with the participants, we were able to carefully define the experiments ahead of time and identify how to bring together the aircraft and ground measurements most effectively.”

Taking the ground measurements posed a particular challenge. Scientists spent anything between two weeks and two months camped on the ice sheets collecting data, that will eventually allow ESA to better characterise the performance of the CryoSat mission and lead to better, more accurate measurements of the changes in ice thickness and mass balance. Ground activities included travelling by skidoo across the vast icy expanses with GPS instruments to measure surface topography, digging snow pits to assess the effects of layering below the surface on the CryoSat signal and so-called ‘coffee can’ measurements to determine ice density and depth.

An unexpected challenge during the campaign came when the usually reliable Dornier-228 aircraft, the workhorse for the airborne measurements, experienced technical difficulties with the on-board navigation system. Fortunately, these were solved by flying a technicican to Svalbard to service the aircraft, and developing the appropriate procedures to calibrate the precision navigation-system before each flight.

Uwe Nixdorf, the airborne coordinator from AWI, stated that, "The technical problems with the aircraft posed an additional and unforeseen challenge. However, I am very glad that in the end they were able to be resolved so that we could go on to collect key data at the different sites for the validation of the CryoSat mission. With so much effort that had been put into this campaign, in the air and on the ground, we did not want to fail."

Following the end of the first campaign, the scientists have only a few months to recover, review the data and draw some preliminary conclusions before heading back onto Canada and Greenland’s inhospitable ice sheets for the second validation campaign planned for this autumn.

Mike Rast | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esa.int

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Impacts of mass coral die-off on Indian Ocean reefs revealed
21.02.2017 | University of Exeter

nachricht How much biomass grows in the savannah?
16.02.2017 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Positrons as a new tool for lithium ion battery research: Holes in the electrode

22.02.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

New insights into the information processing of motor neurons

22.02.2017 | Life Sciences

Healthy Hiking in Smart Socks

22.02.2017 | Innovative Products

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>