Operation IceBridge

IceBridge, a six-year NASA mission, is the largest airborne survey of Earth's polar ice ever flown. It will yield an unprecedented three-dimensional view of Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets, ice shelves and sea ice. These flights will provide a yearly, multi-instrument look at the behavior of the rapidly changing features of the Greenland and Antarctic ice. Data collected during IceBridge will help scientists bridge the gap in polar observations between NASA's Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) -- in orbit since 2003 -- and ICESat-2, planned for late 2015. ICESat stopped collecting science data in 2009, making IceBridge critical for ensuring a continuous series of observations. IceBridge will use airborne instruments to map Arctic and Antarctic areas once a year. The first IceBridge flights were conducted in March/May 2009 over Greenland and in October/November 2009 over Antarctica. Other smaller airborne surveys around the world are also part of the IceBridge campaign.

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Recent videos and greatest hits

  • Operation IceBridge Arctic 2015 video series
    2015.04.22
    NASA’s Operation IceBridge has wrapped up its 2015 Arctic field campaign after covering a vast expanse of science targets during 33 different flights over land ice, sea ice, and glaciers. The airborne campaign flies over the Arctic and Antarctic every year measuring changes in the ice with instruments like radar and lasers. For more on IceBridge: www.nasa.gov/icebridge
  • IceBridge Rendezvous with an Ice-Bound Vessel
    2015.03.26
    Having just arrived in Greenland, the first challenge for the Operation IceBridge Arctic 2015 campaign was to survey a broad swath of Arctic sea ice … and along the way, locate and precisely overfly a Norwegian research vessel frozen in the quickly moving ice pack. In this quick mission update, Flight Team Lead John Sonntag gives us the story from the field. For more on the Lance overflight and Operation IceBridge: www.nasa.gov/icebridge
  • IceBridge Kicks Off Campaign with “New” Aircraft
    2015.03.20
    NASA’s Operation IceBridge is back in the field, but this time, there’s a twist. Instead of using the P-3 or DC-8 aircraft from previous campaigns, they’ve outfitted a C-130 cargo plane for the trip. Science flights begin this week as the mission studies Arctic sea ice, ice caps, glaciers, and the Greenland Ice Sheet with a range of different instruments.
  • Greenland Ice Sheet stratigraphy
    2015.01.23
    For nearly a century, scientists have been studying the form and flow of the Greenland Ice Sheet. They have measured the change in the elevation of the surface over time using satellites. They have drilled ice cores in the field to reveal a record of what the past climate was like. They have flown aircraft over the surface of the ice sheet laden with instruments to gleen information about the interior of the ice sheet and the bedrock below. Now a new analysis of this data has revealed a three dimensional map of the age of the ice sheet. This animation shows this new 3D age map of the Greenland Ice Sheet, explains how it was created and describes the three distinct periods of climate that are evident within the ice sheet. The full script of the narration is available here. More information is available here.
  • Antarctic 2014 video series
    2014.10.28
    Operation IceBridge has returned to operate out of Punta Arenas, Chile in 2014 in order to fly over science targets like the Weddell Sea and the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.
  • OIB: McMurdo Accomplished, West Antarctic Calling
    2014.10.27
    Last year Operation IceBridge flew for the first time out of McMurdo Station in Antarctica, reaching a new slate of exciting science targets. But that means it's now been two years since the mission has flown over critical areas in West Antarctica, and so the airborne campaign is returning to fly out of Punta Arenas, Chile to monitor quickly-changing ice closer to the Antarctic Peninsula.
  • Arctic 2014 video series
    2014.04.24
    IceBridge, a six-year NASA mission, is the largest airborne survey of Earth's polar ice ever flown. It will yield an unprecedented three-dimensional view of Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets, ice shelves and sea ice. These flights will provide a yearly, multi-instrument look at the behavior of the rapidly changing features of the Greenland and Antarctic ice. Data collected during IceBridge will help scientists bridge the gap in polar observations between NASA's Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) — in orbit since 2003 — and ICESat-2, planned for early 2016. ICESat stopped collecting science data in 2009, making IceBridge critical for ensuring a continuous series of observations.
  • OIB: Fourwheeling Antarctica
    2014.10.08
    Not everyone was sure Kyle Krabill’s four-wheeler would function in the Antarctic cold. But with some help from the talented techs at the National Science Foundation, the little ATV played a critical role in supporting Operation IceBridge’s 2013 campaign out of remote McMurdo Station.
  • Measuring Elevation Changes on the Greenland Ice Sheet
    2014.03.25
    This narrated animation shows the accumulated change in the elevation of the Greenland ice sheet between 2003 and 2012. This is the official release without the scrolling credits.

    If needed, a complete transcript is available.

  • Operation IceBridge 2013 Antarctic Campaign B-Roll
    2014.04.01
    Raw video footage from Operation IceBridge's 2013 science campaign out of McMurdo Station Antartica

  • Ross Sea Highlights
    2013.12.24
    A highlight reel set to music.
  • First Landing at McMurdo
    2013.11.25
    With the successful landing of the NASA P-3 aircraft on McMurdo Station's seasonal sea ice runway, Operation IceBridge is opening the door to a whole new suite of remote science targets in Antarctica.
  • From the Cockpit: The Best of IceBridge Arctic 2013
    2013.08.16
    The views from the cockpit of NASA's P-3B aircraft on an Operation IceBridge campaign are truly stunning. The mission doesn't travel to both ends of the Earth for the scenery of course — the airborne mission is there to collect radar, laser altimetry, and other data on the changing ice sheets, glaciers, and sea ice of the Arctic and Antarctic. But for those of us who aren't polar pilots, here's a selection of some of the best footage from the forward and nadir cameras mounted to the aircraft taken during IceBridge's spring deployment over Greenland and the Arctic Ocean.
  • Antarctic Bedrock
    2013.06.04
    The complete narrated animation with labels and flight paths.
  • Keeping a Close Eye on Jakobshavn
    2013.04.05
    Jakobshavn Glacier, one of the fastest moving glaciers in Greenland, has been the focus of IceBridge survey flights for five consecutive years. Here, images from an IceBridge mission on Apr. 4, 2013 and video footage from the 2012 Arctic campaign show this rapidly changing ice stream and how IceBridge is using its suite of airborne instruments to collect crucial data on ice movement and how much glaciers like Jakobshavn might contribute to future sea level rise.
  • Massive Crack in Pine Island Glacier Ice Shelf
    2011.11.02
    NASA's DC-8 flew over the Pine Island Glacier Ice Shelf on Oct. 14, 2011, as part of Operation IceBridge. A large, long-running crack was plainly visible across the ice shelf. The DC-8 took off on Oct. 26, 2011, to collect more data on the ice shelf and the crack. The area beyond the crack that could calve in the coming months covers about 310 square miles (800 sq. km).
  • Operation IceBridge Hyperwall video (v1)
    2012.06.19
    A silent video highlighting Operation IceBridge and designed for use on a nine or 15 screen hyperwall.

  • Laser Radar Animation
    2010.04.05
    Laser and radar instruments aboard NASA aircraft provide measurements of the snow and ice surface and down to the bedrock under the ice. Lasers, with a shorter wavelength, measure the surface elevation of the snow or ice to within a fraction of an inch. Radar instruments utilize a longer wavelength and can penetrate the ice to "see" below the surface, providing a profile of ice characteristics and also the shape of the bedrock. This information is critical for understanding how and why the world's biggest ice masses are changing.

Arctic

In March, Operation IceBridge flies out of Thule and Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, measuring the Greenland ice sheet and Arctic sea ice with its instruments aboard a P-3B aircraft from the Wallops Flight Facility. The LViS instrument fiels on a smaller aircraft which in 2012 was NASA Langley's HU-25C.
  • Flying Low over Southeast Greenland
    2013.04.11
    Few of us ever get to see Greenland's glaciers from 500 meters above the ice. But in this video — recorded on April 9, 2013 in southeast Greenland using a cockpit camera installed and operated by the National Suborbital Education and Research Center, or NSERC — we see what Operation IceBridge's pilots see as they fly NASA's P-3B airborne laboratory low over the Arctic. Following a glacier's sometimes winding flow line gives IceBridge researchers a perspective on the ice not possible from satellites which pass in straight lines overhead. By gathering such data, IceBridge is helping to build a continuous record of change in the polar regions.
  • Operation IceBridge: Wheels Down in Thule
    2013.03.20
    NASA's Operation IceBridge begins another season of science over the Arctic with survey flights out of Greenland. For the next several weeks, IceBridge will carry out a research campaign — the result of months of planning and discussion — to study Arctic sea ice, glaciers, and ice sheets.

  • Five teachers, 500 meters above Greenland
    2012.06.12
    This year five teachers were invited on board NASA's P-3B aircraft to fly at 500 meters above the glaciers of Greenland with Operation IceBridge, a six-year mission to study Arctic and Antarctic ice. Two teachers from Greenland, two from Denmark, and one from the United States were given the opportunity to see polar research first hand, and then take that experience back to their classrooms.

    For complete transcript, click here.

  • NASA and ESA in an Arctic Alliance
    2012.06.13
    For the second straight year, NASA's Operation IceBridge is collaborating with the European Space Agency's CryoVEx program, flying aircraft low over Arctic sea ice while ESA's CryoSat satellite orbits above. In this video, IceBridge Project Scientist Michael Studinger discusses the benefits of the long term joint data set the agencies are creating.
  • IceBridge Field Update on a Day Off (2011)
    2011.04.12
    Science writer Kathryn Hansen and video producer Jefferson Beck give an update on Operation IceBridge from the field. They interview NASA engineer Kyle Krabill about the weather in Greenland and the flying conditions so far.

    For complete transcript, click here.

  • Building a Bigger Bridge - OIB Arctic 2011 Preview
    2011.03.15
    Operation IceBridge is heading back into the Arctic with two aircraft and the most sophisticated suite of instruments ever flown in polar regions. This year's mission will focus on sea ice thickness, the Canadian Ice Caps, Greenland ice sheet dynamics, and flyovers of the European Space Agency's CryoSat-2 ground validation sites.
  • IceBridge Flies the Ice Caps (2011)
    2011.05.12
    Ice caps are simply small versions of ice sheets, measuring in at a maximum area of 50,000 square kilometers (about 19,000 square miles). It's their small and thin stature that makes ice caps more prone to melt in a warming Arctic. Charles Webb of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., explains the importance of monitoring ice caps in the Canadian Arctic

    A few flights within NASA's Operation IceBridge — an airborne mission to monitor Earth's polar ice — are adding to the long-term record of ice cap changes. Such a record can provide insight into ice cap dynamics as well as provide an early-warning indicator of the impacts of climate change.

  • OIB Arctic 2011 LIveshot with Tom Wagner
    2011.03.30
    NASA scientists have just begun the most recent leg of the Operation IceBridge Mission, an unprecedented six-year mission to study the Earth's polar regions, not through the lens of a satellite, but from onboard an airplane. In fact, IceBridge is the largest airborne survey of Earth's polar ice ever flown.
  • AMSR-E Arctic Sea Ice: September 2010 to March 2011
    2011.03.29
    Sea ice is frozen seawater floating on the surface of the ocean. Some sea ice is semi-permanent, persisting from year to year, and some is seasonal, melting and refreezing from season to season. The sea ice cover reaches its minimum extent at the end of each summer and the remaining ice is called the perennial ice cover.

    In this animation, the Arctic sea ice and seasonal land cover change progress through time, from the 2010 minimum which occurred on September 17 through March 16, 2011. Over the water, Arctic sea ice changes from day to day showing a running 3-day maximum sea ice concentration in the region where the concentration is greater than 15%. The blueish white color of the sea ice is derived from a 3-day running maximum of the AMSR-E 89 GHz brightness temperature. Over the terrain, monthly data from the seasonal Blue Marble Next Generation fades slowly from month to month.

  • Operation Ice Bridge 2011 Arctic Flight Paths and Change in Elevation Data over Greenland
    2011.03.28
    With the aircraft resources of NASA's Airborne Sciences Program, Operation IceBridge is taking to the sky to ensure a sustained, critical watch over Earth's polar regions. Flight lines (black) are shown for the 2011 campaign over Arctic sea ice and Greenland's land ice. Many flights target outlet glaciers along the coast where NASA's Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) shows significant thinning. Blue and purple colors, respectively, indicate moderate to large thinning. Gray and yellow, respectively, indicate slight to moderate thickening. Since its launch in January 2003, the ICESat elevation satellite has been measuring the change in thickness of ice sheets. This image of Greenland shows the changes in elevation over the Greenland ice sheet between 2003 and 2006.
  • Eight Down, One To Go (2011)
    2011.04.06
    As of April 6, 2011, crew and scientists with NASA's Operation IceBridge mission have completed eight out of nine planned sea ice flights from Thule, Greeenland, and plan to fly one more from Kangerlussuaq. Michael Studinger, IceBridge project scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., talks about the successes and challenges of logging 30,000 kilometers in an Arctic environment. Credit: NASA/Jefferson Beck
  • Behind the Scenes with Operation IceBridge (2010)
    2010.04.22
    Learn what a typical day is like with Operation IceBridge scientists, pilots and crew as they explore the polar ice sheets. This video includes exclusive footage of Arctic sea ice and Greenland glaciers.
  • Operation IceBridge Arctic 2010 Campaign Takes Off: reporters package
    2010.04.06
    NASA's Operation IceBridge mission, the largest airborne survey ever flown of Earth's polar ice, kicked off its second year of study in late March 2010. The IceBridge mission allows scientists to track changes in the extent and thickness of polar ice, which is important to understanding ice dynamics. IceBridge began in March 2009 as a means to fill the gap in polar observations between the loss of NASA's ICESat satellite and the launch of ICESat-2, planned for 1015. Annual missions fly over the Arctic in March and April and over the Antarctic in October and November. This video gives a brief overview of the start of the Arctic 2010 IceBridge campaign.

    For complete transcript, click here.

  • Live interview with Lora Koenig on IceBridge and the 2010 Arctic sea ice maximum
    2010.04.02
    Live interview with NASA Goddard cryospheric scientist Lora Koenig regarding Operation IceBridge and the 2010 Arctic sea ice maximum.
  • Operation IceBridge Arctic 2010 Pre-Mission Video
    2010.03.18
    This short video provides an introduction to the science objectives and key players for the Operation IceBridge Spring 2010 campaign in Greenland.

Antarctic

In October, Operation IceBridge flies over Antarctica from its base of operations in Punta Arenas, Chile, typically with the DC-8 aircraft supplied by NASA Dryden. A smaller aircraft carrying the LViS instrument also joins the campaign, which in 2011 was a Gulfstream V operated by the National Science Foundation and the National Center for Atmospheric Research.
  • OIB Antarctic 2011 Mission Preview
    2011.10.13
    In preparation for Operation IceBridge's Antarctica 2011 campaign, flight crews at NASA Dryden worked to outfit the DC-8 aircraft — NASA's long-haul "workhorse" — with an array of different instruments designed to measure sea ice, ice sheets, and even the bedrock below Antarctic glaciers.
  • IceBridge Antarctic 2010 Video File
    2010.11.15
    Operation IceBridge video file for the Antarctic 2010 campaign.
  • IceBridge Antarctic Peninsula Flight Highlights - Nov. 13, 2010
    2010.11.15
    The IceBridge science team and DC-8 crew flew a mission over the Antarctic Peninsula on Saturday, November 13th. This video provides a snapshot of the flight from the field and describes the challenges faced with weather and terrain. All instruments collected data for several glaciers before the weather conditions forced an early return to Punta Arenas.
  • Operation Ice Bridge Flight Paths - Antarctica Fall 2010 Campaign
    2010.10.20
    Operation IceBridge — a NASA airborne mission to observe changes in Earth's rapidly changing polar land ice and sea ice — is soon to embark on its fourth field season in October. The mission is now paralleled by a campaign to bring data to researchers as quickly as possible and to accelerate the analysis of those changes and how they may affect people and climate systems.

    Data from campaigns flown prior to the inception of IceBridge will also be archived at NSIDC. These include data from the Airborne Topographic Mapper (ATM) instrument; mountain glacier data from the University of Alaska Fairbanks; and deep radar bedmap data from University of Kansas radar instruments. Combined with NSIDC's existing complete archive of data from the Geoscience Laser Altimeter System (GLAS) instrument aboard ICESat, researchers will be able to access a rich repository of complementary measurements.

    IceBridge, a six-year NASA mission, is the largest airborne survey of Earth's polar ice ever flown. It will yield an unprecedented three-dimensional view of Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets, ice shelves and sea ice. These flights will provide a yearly, multi-instrument look at the behavior of the rapidly changing features of the Greenland and Antarctic ice.

    Data collected during IceBridge will help scientists bridge the gap in polar observations between NASA's ICESat — in orbit since 2003 — and ICESat-2, planned for late 2015. ICESat stopped collecting science data in 2009, making IceBridge critical for ensuring a continuous series of observations.

  • West Antarctic Glacier Ice Flows and Elevation Change
    2011.11.02
    This animation shows glacier changes detected by ATM, ICESat and ice bridge data in the highly dynamic Amundsen Embayment of West Antarctica. We know that ice speeds in this area have increased dramatically from the late 1990s to the present as the ice shelves in this area have thinned and the bottom of the ice has lost contact with the bed beneath. As the ice has accelerated, ice upstream of the coast must be stretched more vigorously, causing it to thin. NASA-sponsored aircraft missions first measured the ice surface height in this region in 2002, followed by ICESat data between 2002 and 2009. Ice Bridge aircraft have measured further surface heights in 2009 and 2010, and these measurements continue today. Integrating these altimetry sources allows us to estimate surface height changes throughout the drainage regions of the most important glaciers in the region. We see large elevation changes at the coast on Thwaites glacier, at the center of the images, and large and accelerating elevation changes extending inland from the coast on Pine Island and Smith glaciers, to the left and right of the images, respectively. The changes on Pine Island and Smith glaciers mark these as potential continuing sources of ice to the sea, and they have been surveyed in 2011 by Ice Bridge aircraft and targeted for repeat measurements in coming years.
  • Flying through the Rift: An update on the crack in the P.I.G.
    2012.03.06
    NASA's DC-8 flew over the Pine Island Glacier Ice Shelf on Oct. 14, 2011, as part of Operation IceBridge. A large, long-running crack was plainly visible across the ice shelf. The DC-8 took off on Oct. 26, 2011, to collect more data on the ice shelf and the crack. The area beyond the crack that could calve in the coming months covers about 310 square miles (800 sq. km).
  • Antarctic 2012 video series
    2012.11.16
    This year Operation IceBridge completed 16 science flights over Antarctica and nearby sea ice, flying once again out of Punta Arenas, Chile. This video series contains a diverse set of products reflecting the science and adventure of the mission.
  • DC-8 Floor plan animation
    2010.04.05
    NASA's DC-8 aircraft is a four-engine jetliner capable of traveling at 40,000 feet for up to 12 hours. This spring, Ice Bridge will harness the power and longevity of the DC-8 to conduct both high- and low-altitude flights for sea and land ice surveys. A number of cutting-edge science instruments are onboard . This conceptual animation shows the aircraft and the locations of all of the instruments on the DC-8 for the spring 2010 mission.