This looks like a great research project to follow-
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.
The P-3 carries an array of instruments for measuring ice surface
elevation and thickness and snow depth, and will be joined by other
aircraft later in the campaign. The Airborne Topographic Mapper uses
lasers to measure changes in surface elevation and uses these readings
to create elevation maps. Radar instruments from the Center for Remote
Sensing of Ice Sheets at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kan.,
show snow and ice thickness and allow scientists to see through land ice
to the bedrock below. A gravimeter from Sander Geophysics and Columbia
University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Palisades, N.Y.,
similarly lets researchers determine water depth beneath floating ice.
A Falcon jet from NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.,
carrying a high-altitude laser altimeter, the Land, Vegetation, and Ice
Sensor (LVIS) will join the P-3 on April 19. The Falcon flies higher and
faster than the P-3, which allows it to cover longer flight lines and
enables LVIS to survey a 2-km (1.2 mile) wide swath of ice. The Falcon
will play a critical role in surveying near coastal areas of Greenland,
and in sea ice flights out of Thule.
IceBridge will also join in efforts to validate and calibrate sea ice
measurements by CryoSat-2, the European Space Agency's ice-monitoring
satellite. ESA's airborne calibration campaign, CryoVEx, aims to ensure
that CryoSat-2's radar readings are accurate. "One of our prime goals in
Thule will be to underfly a European CryoSat sea ice track within two
hours of its passage over the sea ice north of Greenland," said acting
project manager Seelye Martin.