Cryospheric Research Roundup

October 2014

IceBridge Begins 2014 Antarctic Campaign

On October 16, Operation IceBridge began its sixth campaign of research flights over Antarctica to study changes in the continent’s ice sheet, glaciers and sea ice. This year’s airborne campaign, based in Punta Arenas (Chile), will revisit a section of the Antarctic ice sheet that recently was found to be in irreversible decline. The mission also will collect data on Antarctic sea ice, which recently reached a record high coverage. 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.

»To learn more about IceBridge’s 2014 Antarctic Campaign, check this press release and the campaign’s blog.


ARISE Investigates Effects of Sea Ice Loss On Arctic Climate

A new NASA field campaign flew over the Arctic this summer to study the effect of sea ice retreat on Arctic climate. The Arctic Radiation IceBridge Sea and Ice Experiment (ARISE) conducted research flights Aug. 28 through Oct. 1, covering the peak of summer sea ice melt. This was NASA’s first Arctic airborne campaign designed to take simultaneous measurements of ice, clouds and the levels of incoming and outgoing radiation, the balance of which determines the degree of climate warming.

»To learn more about ARISE, read this press release.

Arctic Sea Ice Minimum Continues Below-Average Trend

The 2014 Arctic sea ice minimum, reached on Sept. 17, is the sixth lowest on the satellite record. Over the 2014 summer, Arctic sea ice melted back from its maximum extent reached in March to a coverage area of 5.02 million square kilometers, according to analysis from NASA and National Snow and Ice Data Center scientists. This year’s minimum extent is similar to last year’s and below the 1981-2010 average of 6.22 million square km.

This year’s Arctic sea ice minimum is the 35th in the uninterrupted sea ice record that started with the launch of NASA’s Nimbus 7 satellite in November 1978. Check out this story on how a group of Goddard scientists developed the techniques to study sea ice from space.

» More on the 2014 Arctic sea ice minimum

Antarctic Sea Ice Reaches Record Maximum

Sea ice surrounding Antarctica reached a new record high extent this year, covering more of the southern oceans than it has since scientists began a long-term satellite record to map sea ice extent in the late 1970s. The upward trend in the Antarctic, however, is only about a third of the magnitude of the rapid loss of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean.

»Learn more about the 2014 Antarctic sea ice maximum

July 2014

Ice Sheet and Glacier Modelers Meet at Goddard

CMIP Meeting Lab researchers Sophie Nowicki and Ryan Walker were two of the organizers of the Ice Sheet MIP for CMIP6 meeting, a meeting of ice sheet and glacier modelers that gathered about 35 participants from 10 countries on July 16-18 at the Goddard campus. The sea-level projections made by the glaciological community as part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change process have often been out of phase with the projections considered by the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project community. A primary focus of this meeting was to develop a plan that will allow ice sheet and glacier models to be better integrated, in order to improve both sea level projections due to changes in the cryosphere and our understanding of the cryosphere in a changing climate.

Lab Participation at 2014 Science Jamboree

Science Jamboree The cryopheric sciences laboratory had a strong representation at the 2014 Science Jamboree. Once again, Goddard’s Science and Exploration Directorate offered displays and demonstrations from all science divisions to those participating in the center’s employee engagement activities.

The laboratory had a table displaying several hands-on demonstrations on how glaciers move, ice cores from Greenland, and information on Operation IceBridge. Right next to it, ICESat-2 displayed its Traveling Altimeter Exhibit, a demonstrable mock-up of the upcoming satellite mission that takes “personal elevation profiles” of the participants. In the Hyperwall room, lab member Christopher Shuman gave a presentation displaying a time series of the Antarctic Peninsula.

MABEL’s Alaskan Campaign

MABEL instrument flight takeoff.Starting this month, scientists from the cryospheric laboratory, together with other researchers, engineers and pilots are going to Fairbanks, Alaska, to fly an airborne test instrument called the Multiple Altimeter Beam Experimental Lidar, or MABEL. MABEL collects data in the same way that the upcoming Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2)’s instrument will – with lasers and photon-detectors. Between July 12 and August 1, MABEL will fly aboard NASA’s high-altitude ER-2 aircraft as the Arctic sea ice and glaciers are melting. The data from the Alaskan campaign will allow researchers to develop computer programs, or algorithms, to analyze the information ICESat-2 will collect on Arctic summer conditions.

  • Check out MABEL’s field blog here

June 2014

2014 Summer Interns

The summer is here, and with it comes a new cohort of interns and summer workers for NASA’s cryospheric sciences laboratory. 

Kimberly Gutstein, a graduate student in applied mathematics at San Diego State University, is working on sea ice thickness estimation using Aquarius data, under the direction of Paolo de Matthaeis.

Natasha Marie Goodfox Chenot, is a member of the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma and she is completing a major in Environmental Science at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas. During her internship, working under the supervision of Lora Koenig and Ludovic Brucker, Chenot is investigating snow properties and altitudes along the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, analyzing in-situ measurements collected during an Antarctic traverse in 2011. She is comparing these measurements with those taken from CryoSat-2 satellite observations, and investigating the correlations between snow properties and regional elevations.

Irma Caraballo Álvarez is working under the tutelage of Emmanuel Dinnat and Ludovic Brucker on analyzing sea surface salinity measurements from Aquarius and comparing them to ship borne measurements. Caraballo Álvarez is pursuing her PhD in Environmental Sciences at the University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras. Her interests include geological and oceanographical applications in remote sensing and climate change variables as evidenced in beach rocks.

Zumrad Kabilova, an undergraduate from Goucher College majoring in mathematics and physics, has been hired this summer to work on the Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS). Kabilova is collaborating with the ATLAS Onboard Receiver Algorithm team, under the supervision of Ann Rackley  and Jan McGarry.

Samiah Moustafa is a PhD candidate in the Department of Geography at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Moustafa’s general research interests include Arctic hydroclimatology and assessing Greenland ice sheet meltwater losses at the pixel, catchment, and continental scale. Her current research, under the supervision of Lora Koenig, focuses on characterizing seasonal changes in surface albedo and its modulation of melt in southwest Greenland’s ablation zone. Additionally, she is working on a research project that uses a multi-scale approach to evaluate different satellite-derived albedo product’s ability to capture the inherent spatial heterogeneity of albedo found along Greenland’s ablation zone.

Lab Members Discuss Arctic Sea Ice Change With National Geographic

Josefino Comiso and Walt Meier spoke to National Geographic reporters about the shrinking of the Arctic sea ice cover, which has prompted the publisher to update its depiction of the ice in its upcoming 10th edition of the National Geographic Atlas of the World.

  • Read the National Geographic story here


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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