Researchers and flight crew with NASA's Operation IceBridge, an airborne mission to study changes in polar ice, began another season of science activity with the start of the 2012 Arctic campaign on March 13. From mid-March through mid-May, a modified P-3 from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Va., will conduct daily missions out of Thule and Kangerlussuaq, Greenland with one flight to Fairbanks, Alaska and back to measure sea and land ice. The campaign will also feature instrument tests, continued international collaboration and educational activities.
After NASA's Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite's (ICESat) stopped collecting data in 2009, Operation IceBridge began as a way to continue the multi-year record of ice elevation measurements until the launch of ICESat-2 in 2016. IceBridge gathers data during annual campaigns over the Arctic starting in March and Antarctic starting in October.
IceBridge flights will measure both previously surveyed sites, such as Greenland's Jakobshavn Glacier, and unstudied areas of sea ice, such as the Beaufort Sea north of Alaska. "The most important sea ice flights are the transits between Thule and Fairbanks," said IceBridge project scientist Michael Studinger.