Operation IceBridge - SVS Visualizations

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Arctic

  • Greenland View of Three Simulated Greenland Ice Sheet Response Scenarios: 2008 - 2300
    2019.06.19
    The Greenland Ice Sheet holds enough water to raise the world’s sea level by over 7 meters (23 feet). Rising atmosphere and ocean temperatures have led to an ice loss equivalent to over a centimeter increase in global mean sea-level between 1991 and 2015. Large outlet glaciers, rivers of ice moving to the sea, drain the ice from the interior of Greenland and cause the outer margins of the ice sheet to recede. Improvements in measuring the ice thickness in ice sheets is enabling better simulation of the flow in outlet glaciers, which is key to predicting the retreat of ice sheets into the future. Recently, a simulation of the effects of outlet glacier flow on ice sheet thickness coupled with improved data and comprehensive climate modeling for differing future climate scenarios has been used to estimate Greenland’s contribution to sea-level over the next millennium. Greenland could contribute 5–34 cm (2-13 inches) to sea-level by 2100 and 11–162 cm (4-64 inches) by 2200, with outlet glaciers contributing 19–40 % of the total mass loss. The analysis shows that uncertainties in projecting mass loss are dominated by uncertainties in climate scenarios and surface processes, followed by ice dynamics. Uncertainties in ocean conditions play a minor role, particularly in the long term. Greenland will very likely become ice-free within a millennium without significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Three visualizations of the evolution of the Greenland Ice Sheet between 2008 and 2300 based on three different climate scenarios are shown below. Each scenario is described briefly in the caption under each visualization. Each of the three visualizations are provided with a date and colorbar as well as without. The regions shown in a violet color are exposed areas of the Greenland bed that were covered by the ice sheet in 2008. The data sets used for these animations are the control (“CTRL”) simulations and were produced with the open-source Parallel Ice Sheet Model (www.pism-docs.org). All data sets for this study are publicly available at https://arcticdata.io (doi:10.18739/A2Z60C21V).
  • Jakobshavn Regional View of Three Simulated Greenland Ice Sheet Response Scenarios: 2008 - 2300
    2019.06.19
    The Greenland Ice Sheet holds enough water to raise the world’s sea level by over 7 meters (23 feet). Rising atmosphere and ocean temperatures have led to an ice loss equivalent to over a centimeter increase in global mean sea-level between 1991 and 2015. Large outlet glaciers, rivers of ice moving to the sea, drain the ice from the interior of Greenland and cause the outer margins of the ice sheet to recede. Improvements in measuring the ice thickness in ice sheets is enabling better simulation of the flow in outlet glaciers, which is key to predicting the retreat of ice sheets into the future. Recently, a simulation of the effects of outlet glacier flow on ice sheet thickness coupled with improved data and comprehensive climate modeling for differing future climate scenarios has been used to estimate Greenland’s contribution to sea-level over the next millennium. Greenland could contribute 5–34 cm (2-13 inches) to sea-level by 2100 and 11–162 cm (4-64 inches) by 2200, with outlet glaciers contributing 19–40 % of the total mass loss. The analysis shows that uncertainties in projecting mass loss are dominated by uncertainties in climate scenarios and surface processes, followed by ice dynamics. Uncertainties in ocean conditions play a minor role, particularly in the long term. Greenland will very likely become ice-free within a millennium without significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Three visualizations of the evolution of the Jakobshavn region of the Greenland Ice Sheet between 2008 and 2300 based on three different climate scenarios are shown below. Each scenario is described briefly in the caption under each visualization. Each of the three visualizations are provided with a date, colorbar and a distance scale as well as without. The regions shown in a violet color are exposed areas of the Greenland bed that were covered by the ice sheet in 2008. The data sets used for these animations are the control (“CTRL”) simulations and were produced with the open-source Parallel Ice Sheet Model (www.pism-docs.org). All data sets for this study are publicly available at https://arcticdata.io (doi:10.18739/A2Z60C21V).
  • Three Simulated Greenland Ice Sheet Response Scenarios: 2008 - 2300
    2019.06.19
    The Greenland Ice Sheet holds enough water to raise the world’s sea level by over 7 meters (23 feet). Rising atmosphere and ocean temperatures have led to an ice loss equivalent to over a centimeter increase in global mean sea-level between 1991 and 2015. Large outlet glaciers, rivers of ice moving to the sea, drain the ice from the interior of Greenland and cause the outer margins of the ice sheet to recede. Improvements in measuring the ice thickness in ice sheets is enabling better simulation of the flow in outlet glaciers, which is key to predicting the retreat of ice sheets into the future. Recently, a simulation of the effects of outlet glacier flow on ice sheet thickness coupled with improved data and comprehensive climate modeling for differing future climate scenarios has been used to estimate Greenland’s contribution to sea-level over the next millennium. Greenland could contribute 5–34 cm (2-13 inches) to sea-level by 2100 and 11–162 cm (4-64 inches) by 2200, with outlet glaciers contributing 19–40 % of the total mass loss. The analysis shows that uncertainties in projecting mass loss are dominated by uncertainties in climate scenarios and surface processes, followed by ice dynamics. Uncertainties in ocean conditions play a minor role, particularly in the long term. Greenland will very likely become ice-free within a millennium without significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Three visualizations of the evolution of the Jakobshavn region of the Greenland Ice Sheet between 2008 and 2300 based on three different climate scenarios are shown below. The camera zooms in slowly as the ice sheet retreats and pulls out to a view of the entire ice sheet in the year 2300. Each scenario is described briefly in the caption under each visualization. Each of the three visualizations are provided with a date, colorbar and a distance scale as well as without. The regions shown in a violet color are exposed areas of the Greenland bed that were covered by the ice sheet in 2008. The data sets used for these animations are the control (“CTRL”) simulations and were produced with the open-source Parallel Ice Sheet Model (www.pism-docs.org). All data sets for this study are publicly available at https://arcticdata.io (doi:10.18739/A2Z60C21V).
  • NASA Views Laser Landscapes of Helheim Glacier
    2017.07.28
    What if you could measure a glacier in such detail that you could visualize its surface in 3D? And what if you could compare that view with data from one, two, even 20 years ago? NASA airborne campaigns like Operation IceBridge have been measuring Greenland and Antarctica’s glaciers and ice sheets with a range of instruments for years, including radar, lasers, and high resolution cameras, in order to understand just how our planet’s ice is changing. This video shows in unprecedented detail how Greenland’s massive Helheim Glacier has changed over 20 years, using data from instruments like the Airborne Topographic Mapper laser altimeter and the Digital Mapping System cameras, which fly every year on IceBridge missions, and satellite data form the Canadian Space Agency’s Radarsat Satellite. IceBridge plans to return to Helheim again in 2018 to carry on its annual survey.
  • A possible second large subglacial impact crater in northwest Greenland
    2019.02.11
    It is increasingly rare to find new large impact craters on Earth, let alone such craters buried beneath ice. This study by MacGregor et al. describes a possible impact crater buried beneath two kilometers of ice in northwest Greenland. The circular structure is more than 36 kilometers wide, and both its shape and other geophysical properties are consistent with an impact origin. If eventually confirmed as an impact crater, it would be only the second found beneath either of Earth’s ice sheets. The first was the Hiawatha impact crater, which is also in northwest Greenland and only 183 kilometers away from this new structure, so this team also evaluated whether these two craters could be related. They are similarly sized, but the candidate second crater appears more eroded and ice above it is much less disturbed than above the Hiawatha impact crater. Statistical analysis of the frequency of two unrelated but nearby large impacts indicates that it is improbable but not impossible that this pair is unrelated. This study expands knowledge of the impact history of the Earth and raises the question as to how many other impact craters buried beneath ice have yet to be found.
  • Operation Icebridge Studies Changes in Greenland's Helheim Glacier
    2017.07.28
    These visualizations show data from the Helheim Glacier in Greenland collected by Pre-Icebridge in 1998 and Operation Icebridge in 2013. Data from both the Airborne Topographic Mapper (ATM) and the Digital Mapping System (DMS) are included. The first visualization shows how the scanner on the aircraft acquired the data, building up a representation of the 3d laser scanned points as we go. Once the calving front from 1998 is revealed, the 2013 data is faded in showing the differences between the years. The dots are colored initially by absolute height with reds higher and blues lower; after the 2013 data is added, the dot colors change to a localized scheme with reds higher than nearby points and blues lower than nearby points. ATM data is added at the end for some context. The second visualization shows the DMS data with ATM data at the 2013 calving front. The DMS data is overlayed onto photogrametrically determined altitudes which don't precisely correspond to the ATM data. The heights of the ATM data are the 'true' heights.
  • Greenland's Mega Canyon (narrated video)
    2013.08.29
    Hidden for all of human history, a 460 mile long canyon has been discovered below Greenland's ice sheet. Using radar data from NASA's Operation IceBridge and other airborne campaigns, scientists led by a team from the University of Bristol found the canyon runs from near the center of the island northward to the fjord of the Petermann Glacier.

    A large portion of the data was collected by IceBridge from 2009 through 2012. One of the mission's scientific instruments, the Multichannel Coherent Radar Depth Sounder, operated by the Center for the Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets at the University of Kansas, can see through vast layers of ice to measure its thickness and the shape of bedrock below.

    This is a narrated version of an visualization that can be found, along with more detailed information, at

    Greenland's Mega-Canyon beneath the Ice Sheet (#4097).

  • Operation IceBridge Tracks over the Helheim Glacier in Greenland
    2016.08.31
    Operation Ice Bridge (OIB) has been flying annual airborne missions over the Helheim Glacier in Greenland since 1997. These missions record the elevation of the glacier along a long, thin track near the middle of the glacier. This record of heights helps scientists see how the glacier has changed over the years. This visualization shows OIB tracks from each year in sequence. The camera then moves to the side to compare the ice profiles on a graph. The track profiles are shown to scale (i.e., no exaggeration) until they are compared on the graph where they are exaggerated 10 times to help see the changes. The initial camera for this animation matches the end of the Helheim visualization (#4348). Image layers are included for each track and the graph for those wishing to create different composites.
  • Kennicott Glacier Time Lapse Traverse (2013 - 2015)
    2019.04.01
    Operation IceBridge collected airbourne lidar data over Kennicott Glacier, Alaska in 2013, 2014, and 2015. These datasets were then rasterized and intersected to find a common data collection path where all three years of data overlapped. This overlapping data is then cycled, revealing a time lapse that shows the glacier's natural movements over a three year period.
  • Greenland's Vanishing Ice
    2011.12.15
    Scientists can see and fact-check from space how ice melts in Greenland each year.
  • Racing off the Edge of Greenland
    2011.08.16
    Draining as much as 10 percent of Greenland's land ice, this speedy glacier has scientists' attention.
  • 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 visualization 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. More information is available here.
  • SIGGRAPH Daily 2014: Measuring Elevation Changes on the Greenland Ice Sheet
    2014.08.10
    This animation depicts the changes in the Greenland Ice Sheet between 2003 and 2012 and shows how the bedrock topography under the ice constrains or facilitates its movement. This is a subset of a longer, narrated animation that can be found here. The surface elevation1 and the bedrock topography2 are defined by geo-referenced DEM datasets. The change in elevation data3 derived from data collected by NASA’s ICESat satellite and from an airborne mission called Operation IceBridge is portrayed as colors accumulating over time on the surface. A cutting plane is used to reveal the thickness of the ice sheet and the bedrock topography beneath. A dataset of ice sheet velocity4 derived from from satellite interferometry is used to define the motion of the ice sheet over time. Ice flow movement is calculated from this velocity data, colored by the speed of the ice, and propagated over the surface of the ice sheet. This visualization was generated using Maya, Renderman and IDL. Over the years, we developed some tools to facilitate visualizing data. These include manifolds that accurately project data onto a sphere, routines to accurately access the correct data texture in a series based on the date keyframed in a Maya scene and a flow system that propagates flow vectors at any given time step and inserts the results directly into the RIB stream at render time. These tools are a credit to the director of our studio, Dr. Horace Mitchell and my colleague Greg Shirah.
    1. Greenland Mapping Project (GIMP) Digital Elevation Model provided courtesy of the BPRC Glacier Dynamics Research Group, Ohio State University 2. Greenland bed elevation provided courtesy of J. L. Bamber, Univesity of Bristol. 3. Elevation Change data provided courtesy of Bea Csatho, University at Buffalo. 4. Ice Sheet Velocity data provided courtesy of Eric Rignot, University of California, Irvine.
  • Operation IceBridge 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.
  • Operation IceBridge 2010 Arctic Flight Paths and Change in Elevation Data over Greenland
    2011.03.21
    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 2010 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.

Antarctic

  • 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.
  • Operation IceBridge 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.

  • Operation IceBridge Flight Paths - Antarctica Fall 2009 Campaign
    2009.10.02
    Early in the 20th century, a succession of adventurers and scientists pioneered the exploration of Antarctica. A century later, they're still at it, albeit with a different set of tools. This fall, a team of modern explorers will fly over Earth's southern ice-covered regions to study changes to its sea ice, ice sheets, and glaciers as part of NASA's Operation Ice Bridge.

    Operation Ice Bridge is a six-year campaign of annual flights to each of Earth's polar regions. The first flights in March and April carried researchers over Greenland and the Arctic Ocean. This fall's Antarctic campaign, led by principal investigator Seelye Martin of the University of Washington, will begin the first sustained airborne research effort of its kind over the continent. Data collected by researchers will help scientists bridge the gap between NASA's Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) — which is operating the last of its three lasers — and ICESat-II, scheduled to launch in 2014.

    The Ice Bridge flights will help scientists maintain the record of changes to sea ice and ice sheets that have been collected since 2003 by ICESat. The flights will lack the continent-wide coverage that can be achieved by satellite, so researchers carefully select key target locations. But the flights will also turn up new information not possible from orbit, such as the shape of the terrain below the ice.

    Six flights are scheduled along Antarctica's peninsula, one along the Getz Ice Shelf, two over the Pine Island Glacier, and two others along the Amundsen coast to include the Thwaites, Smith, and Kohler glaciers.

  • Anarctica Exposed
    2013.06.20
    Scientists peel back the continent’s ice to explore its underlying bedrock.
  • West Antarctic Collapse
    2014.05.29
    A new study by researchers at NASA and the University of California, Irvine, finds a rapidly melting section of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet appears to be in an irreversible state of decline, with nothing to stop the glaciers in this area from melting into the sea according to glaciologist and lead author Eric Rignot, of UC Irvine and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Three major lines of evidence point to the glaciers' eventual demise: the changes in their flow speeds, how much of each glacier floats on seawater, and the slope and depth of the terrain they are flowing over. In a paper in April, Rignot's research group discussed the steadily increasing flow speeds of these glaciers over the past 40 years. This new study examines the other two lines of evidence. As glaciers flow out from land to the ocean, large expanses of ice behind their leading edges float on the seawater. The point on a glacier where it first loses contact with land is called the grounding line. Nearly all glacier melt occurs on the underside of the glacier beyond the grounding line, on the section floating on seawater. The Antarctic glaciers studied have thinned so much they are now floating above places where they used to sit solidly on land, which means their grounding lines are retreating inland.
    —>Get Adobe Flash player—>
    Above: Move bar to compare the grounding line of the Smith Glacier from 1996 (left) to the location in 2011 (right) which has retreated inland 35 km during this time. The green line indicates the location of the 1996 grounding line. Download HTML to embed this in your web page.

    The bedrock topography is another key to the fate of the ice in this basin. All the glacier beds slope deeper below sea level as they extend farther inland. As the glaciers retreat, they cannot escape the reach of the ocean, and the warm water will keep melting them even more rapidly. Below are two edited versions of narrated stories released by JPL to explain this research. In addition are the two versions of the unedited animations provided to JPL to support the release. The unedited animations show the region of study by the JPL researchers, identifying by name the glaciers that terminate in the Amundsen Sea. One of the animations includes data showing the velocity of the glaciers in the region, flow vectors showing the movement of the glaciers colored by their velocity and a difference image showing the change in velocity between 1996 and 2008. The second animation does not include these datasets. Both versions of the animation draw close to the Smith Glacier and show how the grounding line of this glacier has moved inland 35 kilometers between 1996 and 2011. As the surface of the ice sheet is peeled away, showing the height and depth of the bedrock topography. Regions below sea level are shown in shades of brown while areas above sea level are shown in green. Sea level is shown in yellow.

Operations

  • Operation IceBridge Flight Lines 2009-2019
    2019.12.12
    For ten years from 2009 to 2019, the planes of NASA’s Operation IceBridge flew above the Arctic and Antarctic, gathering data on the height, depth, thickness, flow and change of sea ice, glaciers, and ice sheets. Designed to bridge the gap between NASA’s two Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellites, ICESat and ICESat-2, IceBridge made its final flight in November 2019, one year after ICESat-2’s successful launch. The fleet of aircraft carried more than a dozen instruments, from ice-penetrating radar and elevation-mapping lasers to optical and infrared cameras. This visualization shows the flight lines of each yearly campaign from 2009 to 2019, created from navigational data obtained from the flights.
  • 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.
  • 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.