Cryospheric Research Roundup

August 2018

New Faces In The Lab

The Cryospheric Sciences Laboratory saw its ranks expand in August 2018, with three young researchers joining the lab to work on topics ranging from melt ponds to models of ice flow. 

R. Tri Datta, a post-doctoral associate, will collaborate with Brooke Medley to quantify melt pond depth and blue ice occurrence in polar regions. Tri comes from the Earth and Environmental Sciences Department at the City University of New York, where her research focused on foehn wind-induced surface melt over the Larsen C ice shelf using the regional climate model MAR (Modele Atmospherique Regional) as well as  satellite and in situ data. At Goddard, she will be working primarily with laser altimetry data from ICESat-2.
Catherine Walker will work with Tom Neumann on ICESat-2 altimetry and ice sheet science. Prior to joining the lab as a visiting assistant research scientist, Catherine was at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA in the Sea Level and Ice group, where she worked on interdisciplinary Antarctic and planetary science projects. Previously, she was a postdoc at Georgia Institute of Technology, after graduating with her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. Her research focuses mainly on ice shelf rifting and ice-ocean interactions around the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets using laser altimetry and other remote sensing data, and on modeling planetary ice shells and their interaction with subsurface water in the Ocean Worlds of our solar system. She also has experience in the field, using AUV/ROVs to investigate the ice-ocean boundary beneath ice shelves and is interested in further developing such capabilities.
Denis Felikson joined the lab as a NASA Postdoctoral Fellow. Denis completed his PhD at the University of Texas at Austin, where he was co-supervised by Ginny Catania and Srinivas Bettadpur, on a project that determined how glacier geometry can set limits on thinning spreading from retreating glacier termini into the interior of the Greenland Ice Sheet. At Goddard, he will be working with Sophie Nowicki to determine the upper and lower bounds of the Greenland Ice Sheet’s contribution to sea-level rise over the coming century. To do this, Denis will use the Ice Sheet System Model, a numerical model of ice flow, to run thousands of simulations with different plausible configurations of the ice sheet. By comparing each simulation with satellite measurements of the ice sheet, Denis will determine the distribution of likely future sea-level rise.

July 2018

Summer Intern Working on Arctic Sea Ice Melt State

Nick Wright, a fourth year Ph.D. Candidate at the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, is interning at the laboratory this summer. Nick studies the shortwave energy balance of the Arctic sea ice cover through a combination of optical remote sensing and field observations. He has developed a method to detect melt ponds and leads in high resolution optical imagery of sea ice and he is using these data to create improved melt pond fraction estimates derived from lower resolution sensors such as MODIS and VIIRS
While at NASA, Nick will be working with Melinda Webster to develop a new product that synthesizes a wide range of satellite remote sensing data sets to describe the current state of melt of the Arctic sea ice cover. 
“This product will help to improve our ability to model the Arctic sea ice cover and our understanding of powerful albedo feedbacks that influence the global climate system,” Nick said.

Undergraduate Summer Intern Aims to Improve Sea Ice Forecasts

Akira Sewnath, an undergraduate senior at the University of Florida, is working this summer with Alek Petty on improving sea ice predictions. Currently, Petty uses an open source linear regression model that validates the idea that using June sea ice concentrations in a simple statistical model can reliably predict the September sea ice extent. Akira is working to move to a more sophisticated statistical model to get better accuracy scores for the September ice extent prediction. She is also building a system that can handle month-to-month sea ice extent, ice area, and ice concentration spatial map predictions. The purpose of this system is to produce all kinds of predictions, as well as be easily retrained when new information is available on a month-to-month basis.

June 2018

Summer Intern Working On Mobile App

Emme Wiederhold, a rising junior undergraduate student at Washington University in St. Louis who is pursuing a degree in Computer Science with minors in Architecture and Design, will be interning at the lab this summer. Under the supervision of Valerie Casasanto, Wiederhold will be working on HoloGLOBE, a mobile application that combines different data sets to help users visualize and understand Earth from a new perspective: as a hologram. Emme is developing a HoloGLOBE module specific to the upcoming ICESat-2 mission.

“As the application is geared towards elementary school children and older, I am planning to integrate our ICESat-2 character, Pho the Photon, into the app to teach users about the mission in a fun new way,” Wiederhold says. She will also work on integrating some of ICESat-2’s elevation data into the app and she will participate in ICESat-2 outreach events.

March 2018

ICESat-2 at Awesome Con

Two members of the ICESat-2 community participated in the 2018 Awesome Con, the Washington, DC version of Comic Con. The conference includes a section referred to as Future Con, which explores the area where science and science fiction meet.

ICESat-2’s science writer, Kate Ramsayer, organized a NASA panel for Future Con/Awesome Con entitled “NASA Science at Earth’s Extremes”. The panelists included Jacob Richardson, who discussed lava flows in Hawaii and Iceland, Lola Fatoyinbo, who talked about mangrove studies in Gabon, and lab member Kelly Brunt, who discussed her recent trip to the South Pole in support of validation of ICESat-2. Overall, the panel discussion and the questions that followed were very well received by the audience, which included many participants dressed as their favorite comic-book heroes.

New Face In the Lab: Isabel Nias 

Isabel Nias joined the Cryospheric Sciences Laboratory in March 2018 as a postdoctoral associate, working with Sophie Nowicki on a multidisciplinary sea level change project as part of the NASA Sea Level Change Team. Isabel comes from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, where she completed her PhD in glaciology. There, her research involved modeling the ice streams of the Amundsen Sea Embayment in West Antarctica, with a particular focus on grounding line dynamics. At Goddard, Isabel will be using Ice Sheet System Model to constrain the committed sea level contribution from the Greenland Ice Sheet.


 2018 Arctic Sea Ice Maximum Is Second Lowest On Record

This year's Arctic sea ice annual maximum extent has joined 2015, 2016 and 2017 as the four lowest maximum extents on record, according to scientists at the NASA-supported National Snow and Ice Data Center and NASA.

On March 17, the Arctic sea ice cover peaked at 5.59 million square miles (14.48 million square kilometers), making it the second lowest maximum on record, at about 23,200 square miles (60,000 square kilometers) larger than the record low maximum reached on March 7, 2017.

  • To learn more about this year's Arctic sea ice maximum, 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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