Airborne Survey of Polar Ice 2014
Russell Hood hosted a PolarConnect event from Greenland with the NASA IceBridge team. Checkout the archive and learn more about the science of surveying the polar regions, flying above the ice!
Check out the PolarConnect Archives Here
What Are They Doing?
Operation IceBridge, a six-year NASA mission, is the largest airborne survey of Earth's polar ice ever conducted. IceBridge uses a highly specialized fleet of research aircraft and the most sophisticated science instruments ever assembled to characterize yearly changes in thickness of sea ice, glaciers, and ice sheets in the Arctic and Antarctic. The research team experiences first-hand the excitement of flying a large research aircraft over the Greenland Ice Sheet. While in the air they record data on the thickness, depth and movement of ice features, resulting in an unprecedented three-dimensional view of ice sheets, ice shelves, and sea ice.
Operation IceBridge began in 2009 to bridge the gap in data collection after NASA's ICESat satellite stopped functioning and when the ICESat-2 satellite becomes operational in 2016, making IceBridge critical for ensuring a continuous series of observations of polar ice. IceBridge flies over the Arctic and Antarctic every year—in the Arctic from March to May and the Antarctic in October and November. By comparing the year-to-year readings of ice thickness and movement both on land and on the sea, scientists can look at the behavior of the rapidly changing features of the polar ice and learn more about the trends that could affect sea-level rise and climate around the globe. More information about IceBridge can be found at the NASA project website.
Where Are They?
The field campaign for Operation IceBridge is based out of Kangerlussuaq in western Greenland. Once used as an American military base, the settlement is now Greenland's main air transport hub and the site of Greenland's largest commercial airport. The climate in Kangerlussuaq is arctic, with temperatures ranging from -25 to 18 degrees Celsius throughout the year.
Meet the Team
Russell Hood grew up on the Central Coast of California, a place known for its quaint, Spanish-themed towns. After completing high school he sought out a more northern climate and a small, liberal arts college. Reed College in Portland, Oregon fit the bill. While there he earned a bachelor's degree in physics.
After college Mr. Hood worked seasonally for the US Forest Service building and maintaining trails in Wyoming's Wind River Range. The lure of Alaska pulled hard on him and soon he was working seasonally in Southeast Alaska, educating visitors at a brown bear viewing area and performing cabin and trail maintenance in the temperate rain forest. He eventually moved to Anchorage, Alaska a few years later, completing his ever northward migration. In Anchorage he entered graduate school and earned a master's degree in teaching. Immediately thereafter he became a science and math teacher in the Anchorage public school system, teaching primarily physics and AP in the local high schools.
Michael Studinger is the Project Scientist for NASA's Operation IceBridge. He received a PhD in Geophysics from the University of Bremen and the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Germany, in 1998. He has been a research scientist for over a decade at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in New York. In 2010, he joined the Cryospheric Sciences Laboratory at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Michael's research interests include physical processes in polar regions linking subglacial environments, ice sheet dynamics, and life in extreme environments, such as subglacial lakes. He is using integrated sets of aerogeophysical data, including gravity, magnetics, ice-penetrating radar, and laser altimeter measurements, to answer key questions in glaciology. His main research projects focus on the role of subglacial environments in a global framework.
George Hale is Operation IceBridge's education and public outreach coordinator and has interests in communicating science to the public and student involvement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines.
Christy Hansen is Operation IceBridge's Project Manager, and handles all phases of IceBridge from planning and mission operations, to managing data product delivery and meeting all of the project's requirements. She works with all branches of IceBridge, including the aircraft offices, instrument teams, logistics teams, science teams, data center and education/outreach teams. Christy's experience comes from more than 10 years of training astronauts as an instructor in the extra-vehicular activity group and as a flight controller in the Mission Operations Directorate at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. In her career with NASA, Christy has worked with the Space Shuttle, International Space Station, and Hubble Space Telescope programs.