Operation Ice Bridge

Operation Ice Bridge
Location: Antarctica
Team: Jim Cochran
Purpose: Airborne Polar Research
Date: 2009-2014 (seasonally)

Climate change has weakened the ice sheets of western Antarctica. In spring 2010, scientists from Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory flew over the region on a NASA-led mission called "Ice Bridge" to better understand what's happening on and below the ice. Their findings may help predict future sea level rise.

Expanding Our Vision Brings the Big Picture Into Focus

by | 11.12.2012 at 1:47pm
Mount Murphy rises through the ice sheet along the flank of West Antarctica, diverting the flow of ice around it (photo credit J. Yungel, NASA  IceBridge Project)

1500 feet above the ground surface is where our suite of instruments normally operates, but for this flight we are taking them up higher, much higher, in fact over 20 times our normal range to 33,000 feet. Our flight plan is to repeat lines surveyed in a previous years by NASA’s Land, Vegetation Ice Sensor []

The Story at Ronne

by | 11.8.2012 at 3:53pm
Travel to the Ronne Ice Shelf involved passing by the Ellesworth Mountains. The range contains Antarctica’s highest peak, Vinson Massif at 4897 meters of elevation.

Named after Edith Ronne, the first American woman to set foot on this southern continent, the Ronne Ice Shelf is tucked just to the East of the Antarctic Peninsula on the backside of the Transantarctic Mountains. With an area measured at 422,000 square kms, this is the second largest ice shelf in Antarctica. This vast []

The ‘Skinny’ on Antarctic Sea Ice

by | 11.1.2012 at 4:48pm
Sea Ice on the left, touching up against an ice shelf along West Antarctica. (Photo from the camera in the belly of the plane). The plane is flying at ~1500 ft. of elevation - the estimated field of view is ~450 meters.

One piece of our IceBridge mission focuses on sea ice here in the south. Sea ice in the northern regions has been reducing at dramatic rates over the last decade, setting a new record just this year, but the story in the south is not so clear. In fact, there has been a buzz that []

A Recovery Mission

by | 10.29.2012 at 3:23pm
Shackleton Ridge bordering the Recovery Ice Stream East Antarctica. (Photo M. Studinger, NASA)

Recovery Glacier is a section of Antarctic ice that lies east of the peninsular arm of West Antarctica, tucked behind the Transantarctic Mountains, a dividing line that separates west from east. We know from satellite data that Recovery and its tributaries have a deep reach, stretching well inland. But there is a lot we don’t know about Recovery because the remoteness of the area has limited the number of surveys.

Launching the Season with a Key Mission – IceBridge Antarctica 2012

by | 10.18.2012 at 5:13pm
Snow blowing off the ice

This month, IceBridge Antarctica resumes. The crews have spent the last few weeks in Palmdale, where the DC8 is based, for instrument installation and test flights prior to our move down to Punta Arenas, our home base for IceBridge Antarctica.

Monitoring Antarctica’s Changing Glaciers – No Longer Like ‘Watching Paint Dry’

by | 11.8.2011 at 6:54pm
Pine Island Glacier, Antarctica

By Kirsty Tinto & Mike Wolovick As little as a few decades ago you could ask a scientist what it was like to monitor the changing ice in Antarctica and the response might have been “Like watching paint dry” — seemingly no change, with no big surprises and not too exciting. Well times have changed. []

The Multiple Faces of Antarctic Ice

by | 11.20.2010 at 10:33am
Shadow of the DC-8 on Antarctic ice

Kirsty Tinto joins Operation IceBridge on two flights over the Amundsen Sea and past Thwaites Glacier to survey the Getz and the Dotson ice shelves.

Measuring the Ice From a Bird’s Eye View!

by | 10.22.2010 at 5:17pm
DC-8 plane outfitted for measuring the ice

Operation IceBridge Antarctica ramps up for a second year of ice surveys. Originating from Chile, a series of airborne missions will be flown almost daily from the airbase in Punta Arenas.

Four Times Around the World in 40 Days

by | 11.24.2009 at 10:01am

For the first time in more than 40 days, the nose of the NASA DC-8 is pointing north after taking off from Punta Arenas airport. We have completed our Antarctic survey flights and are heading back home to Palmdale, California. But before we start climbing to cruising altitude we are flying at 300 ft above the Strait of Magellan just outside Punta Arenas to collect atmospheric chemistry data […]

A Breathtaking But Fragile Landscape

by | 11.17.2009 at 3:31pm | 1 Comment

Michael Studinger, Instrument Co-Principal Investigator, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory: PUNTA ARENAS, Chile–The weather forecast for our survey over the Larsen C Ice Shelf looks good. Given the difficult weather over the past couple of days this is a welcome change. After studying satellite images and computer models and talking to the meteorologist at the Punta Arenas []