Over the Greenland ice cap to Alert
Malcolm (ESA), Alert, 2 April
On Friday I was picked-up by the DTU team at Qaanaaq airport with their workhorse Twin Otter plane. It was a beautiful sunny day and we put it to good use. Instead of flying to Alert along the coasts of Greenland and Canada, we headed directly up onto the Greenland ice cap then turned north and flew along a CryoSat track acquired on the previous day.
The transition from the glacier and onto the Greenland ice cap (left part of the photo). The plane is flying at about 300 m.
The transition from sea level to the ice cap itself is spectacular, often consisting of a succession of deeply crevassed glacier fronts. The ice cap itself is much less so, especially after a few hours of flying since, apart from some patterns owing to snow drift, it is mostly featureless.
Still, it inspires awe in terms of its sheer size and extent, and it is easy to get a mental picture of the mind-boggling amount of water locked up in the ice below.
The Canadian military base Alert at the northern trip of Ellesmere island.
We finally made it to the military base of Alert, Canada on Friday evening where the teams have now spent two days analysing the data acquired so far and making plans for today (Monday).
Rene Forsberg from DTU making a GPS position measurement beneath a corner reflector placed at the end of the runway on Sunday.
Three, or maybe four, planes filled with scientific sensors to measure ice conditions below will head to a meeting point slightly to the east of the Alert base and then collectively head north as CryoSat crosses high above them. Conditions are cold (–27°C) and clear, which is perfect. More to follow - but the plane is waiting !
The temperature this morning as we prepare for the joint ESA and NASA flights.
New CryoSat ice campaign kicks-off up north
From Malcolm (ESA), Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, 28 March
On-route to the high Arctic
After months of preparation and hundreds or even maybe even a thousand emails, the 2012 CryoSat Validation Experiment otherwise known as ‘CryoVEx 2012’ finally kicks-off this week across the Arctic.
Together with NASA colleagues and participating scientists from the USA, Canada and Europe, some remarkable airborne flights are planned later this week and early the week after.
One of the highlights could come as early as tomorrow when the CryoSat satellite will pass over the Arctic Ocean from the north at about 7 km per second and pass almost directly over the Canadian military base Alert located at the northern tip of Ellesmere island. This provides an ideal occasion to fly directly under the satellite and collect valuable data from the onboard instruments on the real ice-conditions and ice thickness beneath both plane and satellite.
For the moment, however, I’m in Greenland still travelling to the campaign location. Reaching the isolated Alert base is itself a challenge and typically takes two to three days or more, albeit through some interesting and spectacular landscapes.
Landing in the main port of entry into Greenland – Kangerlussuaq – I was greeted appropriately by a snow storm as you can see in the picture of the ferry plane between Europe and Greenland. If all goes well I’ll be in Alert tonight or tomorrow evening. In the Arctic, however, you never know as weather can change quickly. Let’s see!
Sea ice conditions around Alert
From Mark (ESA), in Noordwijk, NL
Here are a couple of satellite images showing the current sea-ice conditions around Alert in northern Canada.
AVHRR/NOAA image showing large area around Alert, Canada (Credit: DMI/Polar View)
The first is an AVHRR image from NOAA, courtesy of DMI/Polar View, and shows a large area perspective of the Lincoln Sea (upper part), Nares Strait (lower left) and Northern Greenland (lower centre). The marked box indicates the location where the following image focuses.
A large-scale fracture pattern and relatively dark shear lines can be observed running through the sea-ice pack. They are caused by the sea-ice drift pushing ice against the coast of Northern Greenland. A relatively dark zone of divergence or opening occurs where ice escapes eastwards around the northern tip of Greenland into the Fram Strait (centre right of the image).
This next image, which is an ASAR image from Envisat, shows the regional sea-ice details off Alert. It depicts in light grey and white tones, the old, multiyear ice pack along the Ellesmere Island coast (at left centre) and Greenland coastline. The black border (upper left) indicates the edge of the SAR image swath.
ASAR/ENVISAT image showing ice detail off Alert, Canada (Credit: ESA)
The Envisat image was acquired on 14 April at 15:48 UTC.