MOSAiC Underflight

Narration: Nathan Kurtz


Kurtz: MOSAiC is a yearlong drifting expedition in the Arctic. As part of MOSAiC, it’s a suite of in situ, airborne data, all kinds of data, taken, centered around this ship. And one of the things that’s onboard is a helicopter, and so the helicopter is equipped with a laser altimeter and a camera, which is perfect for validating ICESat-2. We looked at the ICESat-2 orbit tracks, and we realized that MOSAiC had drifted very close to where ICESat-2 was going to pass over. So we planned an underflight directly under where ICESat-2 was measuring. What we’re seeing in this cloud of photons from ICESat-2 is largely the flatness and uniformity of the sea ice cover, but what you really see that stands out are these spikes, these ridges. And so these are these massive 2, 3, 4, 5, 6-feet, or even higher, ridges that are just massive blocks of ice piled up. And so those really stand out in the photon cloud. And so we got a lot of very good validation data that we normally wouldn’t this time of year because of numerous cancellations, for instance, the major airborne component of MOSAiC had been cancelled because of world events. And so now with the helicopter that was on board we were able to collect valuable validation data.

[helicopter rotors] What’s also important about this dataset from MOSAiC is the collaborative nature. MOSAiC involves over 20 nations, and so now people from all those different nations are able to take this data that we collected and compared it in an independent way to what ICESat-2 is measuring.