Sunday, March 20, 2011

NASA resumes Arctic overflights to measure ice extent

The Anchorage Daily News via Associated Press: NASA researchers and university partners are in Greenland to continue what's billed as the largest airborne survey of Earth's polar ice ever flown. The space agency is making its third trip to the Arctic for Operation IceBridge, a six-year mission with the goal of a three-dimensional view of Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets, ice shelves and sea ice. The agency will return to the Antarctic in the fall.

The 10-week Arctic project extends record keeping of ice elevation measurements made by NASA's Ice Cloud and land Elevation Satellite. ICESat, launched in 2003, stopped collecting data in 2009 when its last laser altimeter finally failed, said deputy project scientist Laura Koenig from her office at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

"With IceBridge we can't cover as much of the Arctic as we can with the satellite, but we use the airplanes to monitor important areas that the satellite alerted us to," she said. ICESat-2 is scheduled for launch in 2016. The space agency monitors ice sheets to monitor how melting affects sea level. NASA scientists using satellite measurements have detected Greenland losing 171 gigatons of ice annually, the equivalent of four months of discharge from the Mississippi River…

Arctic sea ice, shot by Pink floyd88 a, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons3.0 Unported Attribution-Share Alike

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