Briefing Materials: NASA Airborne Campaigns Focus on Climate Impacts in the Arctic, Alaska

  • Released Tuesday, September 16th, 2014
  • Updated Wednesday, May 3rd, 2023 at 1:50PM

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.

Related feature story: www.nasa.gov/press/2014/september/nasa-airborne-campaigns-focus-on-climate-impacts-in-the-arctic




Briefing Speakers


Introduction: Tom Wagner, program scientist for cryospheric sciences in the Earth Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

Bill Smith, principal investigator for ARISE at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

Charles Miller, principal investigator for CARVE at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California

Evan Burgess, Operation IceBridge-Alaska/University of Alaska-Fairbanks.


Presenter 1: Tom Wagner


Image 1 NASA’s field campaigns based in Alaska this summer focused on three different aspects of the far north and Arctic climate systems: sea ice, permafrost and mountain glaciers.

Image 1

NASA’s field campaigns based in Alaska this summer focused on three different aspects of the far north and Arctic climate systems: sea ice, permafrost and mountain glaciers.




Presenter 2: Bill Smith

Image 2NASA’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

Image 2

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

Image 3  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.

Image 3

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.

Image 4  ARISE flights from Eielson Air Force Base outside Fairbanks, Alaska have covered both open water and more heavily ice-covered regions of the Arctic Ocean and Beaufort Sea.

Image 4

ARISE flights from Eielson Air Force Base outside Fairbanks, Alaska have covered both open water and more heavily ice-covered regions of the Arctic Ocean and Beaufort Sea.



Image 5  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.

Image 5

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.




Presenter 3: Charles Miller

Image 6The CARVE team has been flying over vast regions of Alaskan permafrost on a regular basis since 2012. The team flies in NASA’s C-23 Sherpa, based at Wallops Flight Facility.

Image 6

The CARVE team has been flying over vast regions of Alaskan permafrost on a regular basis since 2012. The team flies in NASA’s C-23 Sherpa, based at Wallops Flight Facility.

Image 8Methane and carbon dioxide concentrations as measured during a CARVE flight on Sept. 6, 2014.

Image 8

Methane and carbon dioxide concentrations as measured during a CARVE flight on Sept. 6, 2014.




Presenter 4: Evan Burgess



Image 9A 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

Image 9

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



Image 10The 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

Image 10

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



Image 11Operation IceBridge-Alaska has surveyed nearly half of the ice area in Alaska, covering an area the size of Maine.  Locations of repeat flights are shown in red lines in the upper figure.  From these flights, the rate of mass loss from each individual glacier is mapped for Glacier Bay National Park (lower inset) as an example. Red depicts glaciers losing mass; blue depicts only one glacier gaining mass. Credit: Evan Burgess © 2014 Google
Data NASA, SIO, NOAA, US.Navy, NGA, GEBCO, IBCAO, TerraMetrics

Image 11

Operation IceBridge-Alaska has surveyed nearly half of the ice area in Alaska, covering an area the size of Maine. Locations of repeat flights are shown in red lines in the upper figure. From these flights, the rate of mass loss from each individual glacier is mapped for Glacier Bay National Park (lower inset) as an example. Red depicts glaciers losing mass; blue depicts only one glacier gaining mass. Credit: Evan Burgess © 2014 Google Data NASA, SIO, NOAA, US.Navy, NGA, GEBCO, IBCAO, TerraMetrics




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