IceBridge Science Team

IceBridge is a mission directed project that will continue an important time series of observations of ice sheets started in the early 1990s. IceBridge is operating on airborne platforms in Greenland and Antarctica for the next five years with the main instrumental goal to bridge the gap between the ICESAT laser altimetry mission and the ICESAT-2 follow on. This instrumentation is used to measure volume changes of the ice sheet and deduce the contribution of ice sheet to sea level. The mission will however address broader science objectives, including measuring the discharge of ice into the oceans comprehensively, documenting the patterns of thinning and acceleration of key outlet glaciers to better characterize the dynamic response of ice sheets, and collect critical data on glacier thickness and depth of the sea floor in front of the glaciers or beneath their floating extension so that modelers can better represents ice sheet and better constrain their interactions with the surrounding oceans. These data will fill critical voids in our knowledge of ice sheets and pave the way to the development and evaluation of more realistic models of ice evolution, which can in turn be used to provide more realistic predictions of the future contribution of ice sheets to sea level rise.

Eric Rignot, Professor of Earth System Science at UC Irvine, is involved in this project as a Science Team member. Professor Rignot is interested in using IceBridge data to measure ice sheet fluxes at the grounding line, provide guidance on areas of importance and of rapid change, and couple ice sheet models and ocean models to better represent ice-ocean interactions and their impact on ice sheet evolution. Rignot's research group at UC Irvine has processed the first comprehensive map of ice motion in Antarctica for NASA.

The next campaign is happening now, the first mission in Antarctica started 2 days ago, the team is based in Punta Arenas at the tip of South America. The group includes an amazing team of people. In 2011, the team will move to Greenland in March-April for a more extensive campaign. And it goes on like that: Spring in the Arctic, Winter in Antarctica. The folks collecting data accumulate an incredible amount of flight hours (each mission is 10-12 hours long - and you thought transAtlantic flights were long?); they work for 3-4 weeks straight, each day is called upon weather report; and they usually complete the entire mission plan and sometimes more. Eric Rignot participated in earlier campaigns, lots of them, prior to IceBridge, so he has a lot of respect for the engineers, pilots, technicians and scientists who work hard to get the data. Fortunately, Punta is a very pleasant city, a last frontier city, very safe, with excellent restaurants, and the Chilean people are some of the nicest people in the world.

More Info: NASA Operation IceBridge
                 Ice Bridge Science Team