Cryospheric Research Roundup
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.
IceBridge Launches Campaign To Study Summer Land Ice Melt
Operation IceBridge, NASA’s airborne survey of polar ice, is flying in Greenland for the second time this year, to observe the impact of the summer melt season on the ice sheet. The IceBridge flights, which began on Aug. 27 and will continue until Sept. 16, are mostly repeats of lines that the team flew in early May, so that scientists can observe changes in ice elevation between the spring and late summer.
- For more information about this campaign, click 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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