Arctic Thaw

Measuring Change Arctic Thaw
Location: Greenland Ice Sheet
Team: Jim Cochran, Tim Creyts, Indrani Das
Purpose: Glacier and Climate Research
Start Date: March 30, 2010

The Arctic is changing with a rapidity that has amazed scientists. The Greenland ice sheet is shrinking, sending over 48 cubic miles a year of ice streaming into the oceans, while Arctic sea ice cover continues to track below average. These changes will have significant effects regionally and globally. Scientists from Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory are flying over the region on a NASA-led mission called Operation IceBridge to understand what is happening on and below the ice.

The Art of Flying

by | 5.30.2012 at 3:50pm
Devon Ice Cap Mission over northern Canada.  Notice how the propeller blade is rotated 90 degrees to the previous photo.

Flying. It is something we are almost all familiar with, and yet I expect few of us have really sat back to appreciate the actual science of it. For the past 10 weeks we have been flying, not just a day or two a week but five or six days a week depending on the [...]

The ‘Glory’ in Clouds and Other Amazing Sights!

by | 5.24.2012 at 4:04pm
The optical phenomenon, called a ‘glory', can develop when the plane flies directly between the sun and a cloud below.

If you look carefully at the picture below you will see a small shadow of our plane completely encircled in a rainbow. This optical phenomenon, called a “glory,” can develop when the plane flies directly between the sun and a cloud below. Flying over the ice sheet in the far northeast of Greenland we saw [...]

Our Best Flight Yet

by | 5.9.2012 at 5:07pm
Our last sunrise in Kangerlussuaq – we won’t be seeing  another of these, since now we have moved up to Thule and the sun won’t set again until we return to Wallops at the end of the season.

Evidence of the retreat of glaciers since the last glacial maximum (check), flying over sites of ancient Inuit, Norse and present day settlements (check), and a personal recollection of my own past in this location (check).

Clues to Sea Level Rise Are Hidden In and Below Greenland’s Ice

by | 4.29.2012 at 5:54pm
Sea Ice along Greenland's Eastern coast shows areas of thicker (white) and thinner ice (translucent) sliced through with open water leads. (photo M. Turrin)

Greenland is surrounded by a ring of high mountains that work like fingers encircling the ice to hold it in place. Ice sliding from between these “fingers” into the surrounding waters results in a major human impact – Sea Level Rise.

Midgard Glaciers hold the mark of Thor

by | 4.19.2012 at 3:08pm
Clouds hand above the Midgard glaciers like the fire from Thor's lightening bolts. (photo B. Burton)

To Norse mythology Midgard is a place that is impassable, surrounded by a world of ocean. Thor, the hammer-wielding warrior god often traveled across to Midgard, and one imagines evidence of his fiery power remains in the highly charged rocks that are left behind. Magnetized rocks containing Thor’s energy and the fiery touch of his [...]

Clouding our Image

by | 4.17.2012 at 7:42pm
East coast Greenland

Even in idyllic Greenland some days start to feel like the movie “Groundhog Day”, however the turn of events today broke that thread. Over our two weeks in Kangerlussuaq we have ended our evenings with a science and weather report, and the hope of flying the program over both coasts. Each morning we wake up, [...]

The Sphinx of Greenland

by | 4.13.2012 at 8:54pm | 1 Comment
Geikie's pyramid carved basalt planes (photo M. Turrin)

I had been warned of Geikie. “If they fly to Geikie get on that flight” I had been told, but nothing more.

Connecting the past, the present and the future to understand climate

by | 4.11.2012 at 10:25pm
Ice Bridge Flight

Over 100,000 years of Arctic climate data has been linked in the last two days of Ice Bridge missions. When you see the names DYE2, EGIG, GRIP, Ice Bridge and MABEL you view the elite list of Arctic science projects that deliver(ed) groundbreaking climate information through the last 50 years, and if all goes as [...]

Leveraging the Moment

by | 4.9.2012 at 3:24pm
gravity check

Time takes on a new meaning in the field. Every moment is compressed in order to gain maximum yield. Applying human accounting, field time is limited by available resources, personnel, and funds, while using nature’s accounting the limits shift to windows of weather, and seasonality for ice phenomena. In the field both human and nature [...]

On the Heels of History

by | 4.6.2012 at 6:11pm
Matther Henson

Perhaps the most natural connection between the explorations of the past and today’s carefully planned scientific missions is through the hand of fate and the crush of nature.