Since 2009, NASA’s Operation IceBridge embarks on an annual polar journey to document the Earth’s most remote and rapidly changing landscapes to better understand connections between polar regions and the global climate system. Using a fleet of research aircrafts to collect multi-dimensional images, IceBridge is dedicated to studying the annual changes in the thickness and position of sea ice, glaciers and ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica.
This campaign, alongside the Oceans Melting Greenland, began ongoing deployments to Greenland in March. This Photo Friday, explore images from the IceBridge flights from last week’s deployments, and keep up with the latest photos and news from IceBridge through the NASA ICE twitter page.
We’ve covered images from NASA’s Operation IceBridge on Photo Fridaybefore. But as any good project is wont to do, they continue to release spectacular images on their main site and Twitter page. The project began its 9th year with the launch of two simultaneous campaigns. This is a first for the project, launching two flights from two continents (South America and Antarctica) at the same time, but the team hopes it will allow them to expand their coverage into East Antarctica while maintaining surveys near the Antarctic Peninsula.
This Friday, enjoy some images of glaciers from a recent NASA IceBridge flight.
From Huffpost Green: “A new study published in the journal Nature is drawing attention to the effect of warming water on the world’s largest ice mass, Totten Glacier in East Antarctica. Melting of the glacier, which has an ice catchment area bigger than California, could lift oceans at least two meters (6.56 feet). According to researchers who mapped the shape of the ice sheet as well as the thickness of rocks and sediments beneath it to examine the historical characteristic of erosion of Totten’s advances and retreats, unabated climate change could cause the glacier to enter an irreversible and rapid retreat within the next century.”
From Zee Media Bureau: “New Delhi: NASA’s IceBridge, an airborne survey of polar ice, recently captured this stunning view of fjord of Violin Glacier, with Nord Glacier at the upper left corner. IceBridge took this image on May 16, 2016 as the aircraft crossed Greenland to fly central glacier flowlines in the east-central region of the country. This year marks IceBridge’s eighth spring campaign of science flights over Arctic sea and land.”
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center’s ongoing operation called IceBridge uses manned aircraft to study polar ice. IceBridge serves to bridge the gap between NASA’s Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite (ICESat), which stopped collecting data in 2009, and NASA’s second generation of the satellite (ICESat-2) which is scheduled to launch later this year.
The six year operation is the largest airborne survey of Earth’s polar ice, and collects data about ice sheets, ice shelves, and sea ice in Greenland and the Antarctic. The goal is to document annual changes in thickness of sea ice, glaciers, and ice sheets along with collecting information to help with the modeling the effect of climate change on Earth’s polar ice, specifically in connection to possible sea-level rise.
IceBridge Airplanes fly over Greenland between March and May and in over Antarctica between October and November. Smaller airplane surveys of ice around the world are also included in the IceBridge operation.
NASA’s Operation IceBridge is finishing up its seventh annual campaign surveying Arctic ice levels. The operation has run biannual polar expeditions, one to the Arctic and the other to the Antarctic, each year since its formation in 2009. This year’s spring survey of the Arctic wrapped up on May 22.
While Operation IceBridge uses advanced remote sensing technologies to measures ice levels, IceBridge scientist John Sonntag captured a few stunning shots of glacial moulins and crevassing during a Greenland expedition.
NASA states IceBridge’s mission is to “yield an unprecedented three-dimensional view of Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets, ice shelves and sea ice.” Annual data collected from IceBridge also helps to provide continuous polar ice data throughout the gap in data collection during NASA’s Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite (ICESat), which has not collected data since 2010. The satellite’s successor, ICESat-2, will not begin data collection until 2017.
In an article for NASA’s Earth Observatory, IceBridge project scientist Michael Studinger cited the importance of IceBridge in improving sea level rising forecasts, especially for influential annual reports such as from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). He said, “IceBridge exists because we need to understand how much ice the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets will contribute to sea level rise over the next couple of decades. In order to do this, we need to measure how much the ice surface elevation is changing from year to year.”
You can click here to explore some of IceBridge’s data and findings. To read more about moulins, check out this GlacierHub article about moulin ice caves.
Photo Friday highlights photo essays and collections from areas with glaciers. If you have photos you’d like to share, let us know in the comments, by Twitter @glacierhub or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Scientists are trekking across Ruth Glacier in Denali National Park in Alaska, dragging a sled with ground-penetrating radar equipment over the ice. Their mission: reconstruct this glacier’s history and find out how much time these icy giants have left. “So what we’re interested in doing is looking at the relationship between temperature and precipitation rate and the response of glaciers in these areas to those changes,” says Karl Kreutz, a paleoclimatologist at the University of Maine.”
Impact of glacier retreat on biota of Alpine lakes
“The rapid current retreat of glaciers constitutes one of the most prominent signs of climate change. Glacier retreat enlarges existing lakes and at the same time is creating new ones at the glacier terminus. A remarkable characteristic of glacier-fed lakes is their high content of suspended minerogenic particles, so-called ‘glacial flour’. The overarching objective of this proposal is to understand the consequences of glacier retreat for the structure and function of the biota of alpine lakes and to understand the governing ecological conditions in glacier-fed lakes, particularly of those recently created.”
“On Nov. 5, the IceBridge team carried out a survey of the Ferrigno and Alison ice streams and the Abbot Ice Shelf and ice along the Eights Coast. Weather forecasts showed clear conditions in West Antarctica, which typically only last for a few days. Less certain was how cloud cover would look in the Bellingshausen Sea, home of one of the mission’s highest priority flights. That uncertainty is what led mission planners to the decision they made.”