The primary interest of our research group is to understand the interactions of ice and climate, in particular to determine how the ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland will respond to climate change in the coming century and how they will affect global sea level.
-- BREAKING NEWS --
March 26, 2013
The Rignot Research Group has recieved a NASA award that will be put on contract in May 2013. The title is "Ice Velocity Mapping of the Antarctic Ice Sheet."
It is a 5-year project funded by NASA's Science Mission Directorate’s Earth Science Division.
81 proposals were submitted, 27 were funded. Overall, this new project will extend funding at UC Irvine for 10-years to map ice motion in Antarctica and deliver the products to the science community.
Ice sheets hold the largest potential for sea level rise in the coming decades to centuries and represent the largest source of uncertainty in projected sea level rise (IPCC AR4, 2007; Willis and Church, 2012). At present, the ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are already contributing significantly to sea level change (Rignot et al., 2011). Ice sheet surface velocity is a fundamental observable of their dynamics, that has only been available recently from space and that is central to assessments of past, current and future contributions to sea level (USCCRP, 2012). Here, we will generate and distribute continental-scale, multi-year, digital ice velocity vector products of the Antarctic continent as Earth Science Data Records (ESDR) to the research community. We have developed experience in a prior MEaSUREs project to generate these ESDRs, overcome major technical and scientific hurdles, quantify errors for the first time, and distribute the ESDRs to the broad research community (Rignot et al., 2011a). The new ESDRs – and ancillary products such as grounding line positions and image mosaics from NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and international Interferometric Synthetic-Aperture Radars (InSAR)) will help document the rate of change in ice sheet dynamics and boundaries, the rates of ice mass flow to the ocean and contribution to sea level rise, and the sensitivity of ice dynamics to climate forcing on multi-decadal time scales for the first time. These ESDRs will in turn play a central role in the development of more realistic numerical ice sheet models coupled with atmospheric and oceanic numerical models to produce more reliable hindcasts and forecasts of ice sheet evolution. Data required for this project will be provided by a suite of satellites operated by international agencies that cooperated with NASA in a highly successful pole-to-cost InSAR coverage of Antarctica for the International Polar Year (IPY) 2008-2009 that is unique in the history of remote sensing and collaboration between space agencies. These agencies have expressed the desire to continue this collaboration beyond the 2008-2009 International Polar Year. The project will therefore employ data from the Canadian Space Agency RADARSAT-2, the Japanese ALOS PALSAR-2, the European Sentinel-1, as well as historical data from RADARSAT-1, ALOS PALSAR, Envisat ASAR and ERS-1/2 going back to 1996. The project will also provide a pathway for NASA’s DESDynI-R mission to be flown around 2017. The ESDRs will be generated using well-proven, documented and peer-reviewed algorithms and numerical tools developed over the past twenty years that represent the state of the art in mapping ice sheet velocity from space, independent of cloud cover and solar illumination, at a uniform, high-resolution sampling of entire continent. For data distribution, customer support and feedback, we will continue to partner with the National Snow and Ice Data Center, in Boulder, CO, a national data depository for cryospheric science products, with international reputation and unmatched experience archiving, documenting and distributing cryospheric data and querying its scientific impact on the research community, educational entities and the public at large. Glaciologists, ice sheet modelers, climate scientists, geophysicists, physical oceanographers, solid earth scientists, atmospheric scientists, biologists and geologists, scientist interested in the Antarctic continent at large but also educational professional, organizers of field logistics, journalists and the public will use these ESDRs. These science products will establish a long-term legacy for Antarctic science and the evolution of Polar Regions in a warming climate. The project will serve the highest science objectives of NASA' Earth Science Mission Directorate in climate change research, in particular its science objectives in the study of the Earth's ice cover and sea level rise.
August 18, 2011
We completed the first complete ice velocity map of Antarctica (link to our MEaSUREs page). This project is the outcome of a coordinated effort between NASA, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the European Space Agency (ESA), the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), as well as the Alaska Satellite Facility (ASF) and MacDonald, Dettwiler & Associates Ltd. (MDA). Results are published in Science (link to publication page with new entry), the paper is already available online on Science Express (link to Science Express).
“This is like seeing a map of all the oceans’ currents for the first time. It’s a game changer for glaciology. We’re seeing amazing flows from the heart of the continent that had never been described before.”
Eric Rignot, UCI
“These researchers created something deceptively simple: a map of the speed and direction of ice in Antarctica. But they used it to figure out something fundamentally new: that ice moves by slipping at its bed, not just at the coast but all the way to the deep interior of Antarctica.”
Thomas Wagner, NASA
"Large scale mosaicking of moving ice with different satellites must have been very time consuming and frustrating work. We want to express our sincere respects to the JPL/UCI team. The continental velocity map greatly enhances people's knowledge on how the ice is moving on the unknown continent. It will also increase expectations for a follow-up map in several years." Masanobu Shimada, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
“…one of the cardinal goals of International Polar Year's Space Task Group (IPY-STG) was to "achieve the first pole to coast velocity map of Antarctica. Spaceborne SAR imaging is recognized as the only way to achieve this goal … . I am really satisfied to see the fruits of your labour, and to see the achievement of this significant "first" for the benefit of Antarctic glaciology and cryospheric scientific discovery. Undoubtedly, one of the other immediate beneficiaries of your results will be the IPCC AR5 report.” Mark Drinkwater, ESA and Chair of IPY-STG
“To our knowledge, this is the first time that a tightly knit collaboration of civilian space agencies has worked together to create such a huge dataset of this type. It is a dataset of lasting scientific value in assessing the extent and rate of change in polar regions.” Yves Crevier, Canadian Space Agency
Glaciology mixes a variety of scientific and engineering disciplines. Our research combines
- satellite remote sensing techniques (imaging radar, laser altimetry, radio echo sounding)
- airborne geophysical surveys,
- field surveys (GPR, GPS) and
- numerical modeling (ice sheet motion and ocean circulation near glaciers)
Our research group currently has 5 members at UCI (2 PhD, 2 staff scientists, 1 Professor) and 4 members at JPL (2 PhD, 2 full time researchers). The two teams collaborate closely. Check out the opportunities to join our team.
Rapid changes are taking place in polar and sub-polar regions. At the same time, we are able to look at entire ice sheets at an unprecedented level of spatial detail. This is therefore an exciting time of exploration, discovery, major scientific advances, and emerging new science of high societal relevance. In addition, there are many opportunities to connect with amazing natural landscapes.