Thursday, April 21, 2011

ESA-NASA collaboration furthers sea-ice research

PhysOrg: A carefully executed operation to validate data from CryoSat has shown what can be accomplished when ESA, NASA and others join forces to further our understanding of how the fragile polar environment is responding to climate change.

In support of ESA's CryoSat ice mission, which was launched a year ago to monitor changes in ice thickness, a gruelling validation campaign is being carried out in one of the most inhospitable environments on Earth.

The one-month Arctic expedition is a major undertaking, with scientific teams from numerous organisations braving temperatures of –30°C in central Greenland, Svalbard and the Fram Strait, Devon Island and offshore from Alert, Ellesmere Island, in northern Canada.

To ensure that CryoSat is delivering accurate data, the scientists are gathering a wealth of ice and snow measurements on the ground and from the air. These in situ measurements will be compared with measurements delivered by CryoSat, thereby guaranteeing that the mission is delivering the best quality data possible…

An example of a snow-thickness map produced by the ground team. To produce this map, snow-thickness measurements were painstakingly collected over a 20×20 m grid and processed into the image. Later, these data will be compared to airborne data from ESA and NASA instruments. It takes a team of three scientists about 90 minutes to collect the measurements for such an image. Credits: ESA

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