Briefing Materials: NASA Airborne Campaigns Focus on Climate Impacts in the Arctic, Alaska
Released on September 16, 2014
Earth’s northern polar region, one of the most rapidly changing areas of our planet, is the focus of three recent NASA research campaigns and will be discussed in detail during a media teleconference at 3 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Sept. 16.
The airborne field campaigns will examine changing glacier elevations in Alaska, thawing permafrost and the impact of sea ice retreat on the Arctic climate.
NASA’s first campaign to study the link between sea ice retreat, clouds and the energy balance in the Arctic is underway, flying out of Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks, Alaska. The Arctic Radiation-IceBridge Sea and Ice Experiment (ARISE) is making flights over Arctic sea ice to measure ice, cloud properties and incoming and outgoing radiation.
NASA is wrapping up the third year of flights for the Carbon in Arctic Reservoirs Vulnerability Experiment (CARVE), which is measuring the emission of greenhouse gases from thawing permafrost. Operation IceBridge-Alaska recently concluded its sixth year of flights measuring changes of Alaskan mountain glaciers.
NASA’s ARISE (Arctic Radiation-IceBridge Sea and Ice Experiment) campaign consists of research flights over Arctic sea ice to measure ice, cloud properties and incoming and outgoing radiation. Here, NASA pilot Jeff Chandler looks out at the sea ice during a flight in NASA’s C-130 over the Beaufort Sea on Sept. 13, 2014. Credit: NASA/Patrick Lynch
NASA’s C-130 carries a unique group of sensors to characterize sea ice and to measure cloud properties and how much sunlight and heat are transferred through the Arctic atmosphere. The C-130 is based at Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Virginia.
ARISE flight paths are chosen not only to cover areas of open water, ice-covered ocean and regions with varying cloudiness, but also to align with the orbit tracks of satellite instruments such as the CALIPSO lidar and the CERES instruments that fly on multiple NASA satellites.
A DHC-3 Otter aircraft flown for NASA Operation IceBridge-Alaska surveys flies over Bering Glacier, Alaska with a scanning laser that measures how much ice has been lost since previous overflights. Based on these measurements, Bering Glacier is shrinking at a rate typical of Alaska glaciers and alone is losing over 3 cubic kilometers of ice to the oceans annually. Credit: Chris Larsen/University of Alaska-Fairbanks
The St. Elias Mountains in Alaska are home to the largest temperate glaciers in the world. In this complex landscape each glacier responds to climate differently, which complicates efforts to predict how the overall region will respond to climate change and contribute to sea level. Credit: Evan Burgess/University of Alaska-Fairbanks
GCMD keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation:
Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version 22.214.171.124.0