Update

PolarConnect Archived
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?

Research aircraft in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland
Research aircraft in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland
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 Greenland ice sheet bordering the Arctic Ocean
The Greenland ice sheet bordering the Arctic Ocean
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.

Expedition Map

Dates
-
Location
Kangerlussuaq, Greenland
Project Funded Title
Operation IceBridge
George Hale - Science Outreach Coordinator
Science Outreach Coordinator
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

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.

Russell Hood - Teacher
Teacher
East High School

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 - 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.

Christy Hansen - Project Manager
Project Manager
Goddard Space Flight Center

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.

Latest Journals

Back Home I left Greenland around noon on April 24th. That morning three of us were headed out on the flight to Copenhagen. Before finalizing our packing we walked out to the P3 one more time to say goodbye to the crew before they took off. They had one last hight priority mission over Eastern…
Last Flight Clouds continued to sock in most of Greenland this morning so none of those routes were available. Our only other alternative was a low priority mission that over Baffin Island, Canada. It costs a lot of money to fly any mission but with the number of weather delays we have had thus…
Another Day, Another Weather Day The weather once again kept us grounded today. I guess every five years so it seems that the spring weather here in Kanger is pretty bad for the OIB team. Thus far the temperature has probably been above freezing for maybe a few hours, at most, while I've been…
Back in the Air We flew a fantastic mission to the East Coast of Greenland today. That area has some of the most scenic coastline you'll ever see - ice or no ice. And some of the most predicable turbulence. We had modest turbulence for much of our time over there, enough to spill coffee creamer…
Easter Sunday As mentioned previously we do not fly on Sundays. And Easter Sunday is more special than most here. Since Greenland is about 88% Lutheran Easter, the locals takes this day to heart. A case in point is that the one grocery store in town was open for only a few hours on Friday, not…
Jakobshavn - One More Time I have been asked a few times the following question: How do Greenland's glaciers differ from those in Alaska? Thus far I've mentioned size and scale (Greenland has more and bigger glaciers, obviously) but another thing I've noted is the calving/sea ice interaction.…

Airborne Survey of Polar Ice 2014 Resources

Overview

My high school has a Science Club whose members visit local elementary schools and run various “stations” that (elementary) students visit for 10-15 minutes before rotating to a different one.

Lesson
Arctic
Less than 1 period
Elementary and Up
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Overview

One of the most important indicators of our warming climate is the extent and thickness of polar sea ice. Currently satellites measure the extent of polar sea ice but it takes more sophisticated equipment aboard a low-flying plane to actually measure the thickness of sea ice. This lesson will show students how this is done.

Lesson
Arctic
About 1 period
Middle School and Up
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This one hour webinar is a great look at the PolarTREC 2014 Arctic expeditions. Each teacher presents a little about the research projects, implementation in the classroom, and outreach into communities.

Event
Arctic
About 1 period
All Aged
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This one hour live event takes place in Greenland with Russell Hood and the NASA Operation IceBridge team.

Event
Arctic
About 1 period

Researchers aboard NASA's P-3 research aircraft left Virginia, March 10 for Greenland to begin a new season of collecting data on Arctic land and sea ice. The mission, known as Operation IceBridge, is to gather data on changes to polar ice. PolarTREC teacher Russell Hood will join the expedition in Greenland this spring.

Article
Arctic
All Aged
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