Cryospheric Research Roundup
Comiso Retires After Almost 40 Years At NASA
Josefino “Joey” Comiso retired from NASA on January 3rd. During his nearly 40 years at NASA, Comiso has published over 130 refereed journal articles, 20 book chapters, four co-authored books, and a 500-page singly-authored book, Polar Oceans from Space. He received NASA’s Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal in 2013 and NASA’s Career Achievement Award in 2014.
“Joey’s research and scientific leadership has helped to establish Goddard as the world leader for passive microwave remote sensing of sea ice,” said Thorsten Markus, chief of the Cryospheric Sciences Laboratory. “The passive microwave sea ice record that he and his colleagues initiated in the 1970s and continue to generate has become the key data record of the dramatically changing Arctic and Antarctic sea ice covers.”
Comiso said he will continue his research on the Arctic and Antarctic climate system as an Emeritus scientist. He has been working on enhancements and validation of historical surface temperature and sea ice cover data and wants to use the enhanced measurements in conjunction with ancillary data to improve the understanding of unexpected trends in the Antarctic sea ice cover and dramatic reductions of sea ice extents during some recent years in the Arctic region. In addition, Comiso wants to assess the impact of an almost ice-free Arctic Ocean in the summer to the primary productivity of the region and global ocean circulation.
Nowicki and Krabill Receive Most Valuable Player Awards
The NASA Cryospheric Science Program and Operation IceBridge recognized the work of Sophie Nowicki and Kyle Krabill during the Program for Arctic Regional Climate Assessment and Operation IceBridge’s annual meetings, held at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in January.
Nowicki, an ice sheet modeler at Goddard, received the NASA Cryospheric Sciences Most Valuable Player Award for 2016 for “selfless and tireless leadership of the ice sheet community in support of improved sea level rise projections, and sustained contributions in connecting the ice sheets to the global system.”
Krabill, an engineer at NASA Wallops, received the Operation IceBridge Antarctica 2016 Most Valuable Player Award. The citation read: “For outstanding support and dedication to the NASA Operation IceBridge Campaign from September through November 2016. Besides expertly executing your primary tasks, your initiative to obtain daily satellite imagery, from International partners, around the complex topography of the Antarctic Peninsula, allowed the team to make more aggressive ‘go’ decisions than they could have otherwise effectively made. This new information enabled the team to address the highest-priority science targets around the Peninsula with far greater confidence from previous years and was a major reason Operation IceBridge completed all eight baseline-priority flights in 2016.”
New Civil Servant
Melinda Webster, who joined the Cryospheric Sciences Laboratory as a NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellow in 2016, became a civil servant on January 9th. As a research physical scientist, Melinda studies Arctic sea ice through the development and application of remote sensing products with in situ data. Her research focuses on the geophysical changes of the Arctic sea ice cover to improve knowledge of the role of sea ice in the global climate system.
IceBridge Finishes Annual Study of Changing Antarctic Ice
Operation IceBridge ended its eighth consecutive Antarctic deployment on Nov. 17, tying with the 2012 campaign record for the most research flights carried out during a single Antarctic season.
During its six weeks of operations from its base in Punta Arenas, in the southernmost tip of Chile, IceBridge carried out 24 flights over Antarctica.
In addition to a visit from NASA Deputy Administrator Dava Newman, IceBridge also welcomed U.S. Ambassador to Chile Carol Perez. Other guest participation included visitors from the State Department and U.S. Embassy in Chile; six U.S. teachers currently living and teaching in Chile; a Facebook representative; a visual artist; two photographers; and several journalists from various media outlets.
- Read more about the conclusion of IceBridge’s 2016 Antarctic campaign here.
Extremely Warm 2015-’16 Winter Cyclone Weakened Arctic Sea Ice Pack
A large cyclone that crossed the Arctic in December 2015 brought so much heat and humidity to this otherwise frigid and dry environment that it thinned and shrunk the sea ice cover during a time of the year when the ice should have been growing thicker and stronger, a NASA study found.
The extremely warm and humid air mass associated with the cyclone caused an amount of energy equivalent to the power used in one year by half a million American homes to be transferred from the atmosphere to the surface of the sea ice in the Kara-Barents region. As a result, the area’s sea ice thinned by almost 4 inches (10 centimeters) on average. At the same time, the storm winds pushed the edges of the sea ice north, compacting the ice pack.
- Read more about the cyclone and watch an animation here.
IceBridge Begins Eighth Year of Antarctic Flights
Operation IceBridge completed the first research flight of its 2016 Antarctic campaign on October 14. The campaign will continue through November 19. This year, the mission is based in Punta Arenas, a city at the southern tip of Chile. From there, IceBridge is carrying 12-hour flights back and forth to Antarctica, covering most of the western section of the frozen continent – the region that is experiencing the fastest changes and is Antarctica’s biggest contributor to sea level rise.
The information IceBridge has gathered during its eight years of flights in the Antarctic, which includes data on the thickness and shape of snow and ice, as well as the topography of the land and ocean floor beneath the ocean and the ice, has allowed scientists to determine that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet may be in irreversible decline. Researchers have also used IceBridge data to evaluate climate models of Antarctica and map the bedrock underneath Antarctic ice.
- For more information about the Antarctic campaign, click here
Nine Lab Members Receive HOBI Awards
The outstanding work of nine members of the cryospheric science laboratory was recognized during the 2016 Hydrospheric and Biospheric Sciences Annual Award Ceremony, held on Sept. 1. Stacy Milligan and Lisa Karmel received the HOBI award for exceptional administrative support. Ludovic Brucker won the HOBI outreach award for exceptional public outreach and mentoring of students in the field of remote sensing of the cryosphere. Kyle Krabill, Nick DiGirolamos, Larry Stock, Jeremy Harbeck and Jeff Guerber all got awards for outstanding technical support far beyond their responsibilities.
Finally, Dorothy Hall (pictured) received the HOBI Career Achievement award, recognizing her lifetime work.
New Member of The Lab
Melinda Webster joined the Cryospheric Sciences Laboratory in September as a NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellow. She comes from the University of Washington, where she completed a Ph.D. in Oceanography researching snow and melt ponds on Arctic sea ice. During her fellowship at Goddard, she'll use laser altimetry data from NASA’s ICESat and Operation IceBridge missions to investigate the topographic changes in first-year and multiyear sea ice, and the effects of those changes on spring snow distributions and summer melt pond coverage.
New blog: Beaufort Gyre Exploration Project 2016
Sea ice scientist Alek Petty will spend four weeks participating in the 2016 Joint Ocean Ice Study, a research expedition around the Arctic Ocean’s Beaufort Gyre. The goal of these expeditions, which have been taking place since 2013, is to better understand the Beaufort Gyre’s circulation, freshwater content, water mass properties and biota distributions. Petty will be blogging about his experience in NASA’s Earth Observatory’s “Notes from the Field” blog.
- Check out the Beaufort Gyre Exploration blog.
Read more research news in our Research Roundup Archives.
Cryospheric Sciences at NASA Goddard
Cryospheric research at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center addresses the physics of ice sheets and glaciers, sea ice, snow on ice and land, and their roles in the global climate system.
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