Update

Archived PolarConnect Event
On 23 April 2012 Tim Spuck connected with over 200 students while working on his project in Greenland. You can check out this event archive and many more by visiting the PolarConnect Archives

Check out NASA's story about Operation IceBridge here!

What Are They Doing?

The cockpit of a NASA aircraft
The cockpit of a NASA aircraft
IceBridge, a six-year NASA mission, is the largest airborne survey of Earth's polar ice ever conducted. The research team experienced first-hand the excitement of flying a large research aircraft over the Greenland Ice Sheet. While in the air they recorded data on the thickness, depth, and movement of ice features, resulting in an unprecedented three-dimensional view of Arctic ice sheets, ice shelves, and sea ice.

Operation IceBridge began in 2009 to bridge the gap in data collection after NASA's ICESat-1 satellite stopped functioning and when the ICESat-2 satellite becomes operational in 2016, making IceBridge critical for ensuring a continuous series of observations in the Arctic. IceBridge flies over these regions to map Arctic areas once a year. By comparing the year-to-year readings of ice thickness and movement both on land and on the sea, scientists can take a yearly look at the behavior of the rapidly changing features of the Greenland ice and learn more about the trends that could affect sea-level rise and climate change around the globe.

Where Are They?

Flying over the Midgard Glacier in Greenland
Flying over the Midgard Glacier in Greenland
The field campaign for Operation Ice Bridge was 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.

Expedition Map

Dates
-
Location
Greenland
Project Funded Title
NASA Operation IceBridge
Related Expeditions
Tim Spuck - Teacher
Teacher
Oil City Area High School

Tim Spuck teaches Earth & Space Sciences at Oil City Area Sr. High School in Oil City, PA, and has served as the District’s K-12 Science Department Chair. Recently he completed an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship with the National Science Foundation’s Division of Graduate Education's GK-12 STEM Fellows Program. Over the years he has also taught courses at the undergraduate level, lead many teacher training programs throughout the US and abroad, and is currently pursuing his D. Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction at West Virginia University. For the past 20 years Tim has worked to engage his students in authentic science research, and those students have been recognized throughout the scientific community for their discoveries and contributions to astronomy. Tim’s contributions in education have been recognized through numerous awards including the Einstein Fellowship, American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics Educator Achievement Award, Tandy Technology Scholars Award, the Pennsylvania Christa McAuliffe Fellowship, and the Kevin Burns Outstanding Science Teacher Award. Although his primary focus over the past 20 years has been astronomy education and the development and support of partnerships between STEM researchers and educators, he maintains a strong interest in a wide variety of STEM areas.

Michael Studinger - Researcher
Researcher
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

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.

Latest Journals

I’m back here in Washington DC completing my Einstein Fellowship, but continue to reflect on my experience in Greenland. My time in Greenland went by quickly, so I will continue to post journals about the IceBridge project in the coming weeks. I’m currently working on a series titled “The People…
My teacher colleagues from Denmark and Greenland headed home this morning, and I was disappointed to see them go. It’s been interesting learning about schools here in Greenland as well as those in Denmark. Here in Greenland for example many students live in remote parts of the country. The total…
Image from the Helheim Glacier run this afternoon. Helheim in Danish means home of death. I'm sure it earned its name from the fate many met as they tried to navigate the waters in the region. Another great day with lots of new experiences on the NASA IceBridge flight. I was invited by the…
I only have a few minutes. We had to return early from our flight today due to an abnormal noise on the aircraft. The issue has been resolved and we are back out in 30 minutes. But here is a video from my flight yesterday. Can you recognize ant of the glacier features? More to come! View…
As I write, we’re about 15 minutes away from landing after completing an 8 hour mission in southeast Greenland. I keep running the day’s images through my mind. I’ve seen so much today that I’ve never seen before, and for that matter I’ve seen things today that few people ever have. I’ve seen…
Sunday’s are down days for IceBridge Flights, so the team headed to the Russell Glacier ice cap about 10 miles east of town. With the dirt road half covered with ice and the other half puddles of water, it was the most bone-jarring ride I’ve ever had. But worth every bit of it to spend the day at…

Airborne Survey of Polar Ice Resources

Overview

Have you ever wondered how polar scientists do it? How do they really know if the planet is losing vast quantities of ice anyway? You can use pictures from satellites to monitor the surface from year to year, but the vast majority of ice is hidden from view, buried beneath the surface in some of the most inhospitable and inaccessible corners of our planet.

Lesson
Arctic
About 1 period
Middle School and Up
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Libertyville High's Mark Buesing working with NASA in Greenland. Veteran Libertyville High School science teacher Mark Buesing packed some cold-weather gear and headed to glacier-filled Greenland, where he is part of a NASA mission to study ice in both of our planet's polar regions.

Article
Arctic
All Aged
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PolarTREC teacher Tim Spuck presented on his experience with the IceBridge project, monitoring Greenland's glaciers and how they are being affected by climate change.

Article
Arctic
All Aged
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In mid-April 2012, five teachers from Denmark, Greenland, and the United States, were given the experience of a lifetime. The teachers lived, worked, and flew alongside airborne polar scientists in Greenland, and saw firsthand how remote data are collected on NASA’s Operation IceBridge. In the process, the experience provided the educators with better tools to teach students about science.

Article
Arctic
All Aged
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In this one hour webinar PolarTREC teacher Tim Spuck explains his work with the NASA IceBridge Project, the largest airborne survey of Earth's polar ice ever conducted.

Video
Arctic
Less than 1 period
Middle School and Up
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