Operation IceBridge was a NASA field campaign that was the largest airborne survey of Earth's polar ice ever flown. Spanning 11 years, IceBridge produced an unprecedented three-dimensional view of Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets, glaciers and sea ice. Dozens of flights every year provided regular, multi-instrument insights into the behavior of Earth’s rapidly changing cryosphere.
Data collected by IceBridge helped scientists bridge the gap in polar observations of ice height between NASA's Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite (ICESat), which launched in 2003, and ICESat-2, which launched on September 15, 2018. ICESat stopped collecting science data in 2009, making IceBridge critical for ensuring a continuous series of observations. IceBridge surveyed the Arctic and Antarctic areas once a year, typically in the springtime before summer melting began. The first Operation IceBridge flights were conducted in March/May 2009 over Greenland and in October/November 2009 over Antarctica. Other smaller airborne surveys around the world, in particular Alaska, were also part of the IceBridge mission.