Thursday, 10 April 2014

Planes, planes, everywhere!

Whilst we were out on the camp we had flyovers from three different aircraft carrying various geophysical instruments to measure the sea ice. Everyone got very excited by the DC3 (the same one that took us from Qaanaaq to Station Nord) towing the EM bird underneath. The EM bird is a torpedo shaped device that measures the sea ice thickness through electromagnetic sounding. The DC3 tows it on a cable 50m or so beneath the aircraft, only 15m above the ice surface. The cable makes a whistling sound as it cuts through the air and makes for a very dramatic sight.

At the same time as the DC3 we also had the TF-POF Twin Otter carrying a laser scanner and ASIRAS. ASIRAS mimics the operation of the instrument onboard CryoSat-2 and is very useful for linking what we see on the ground with what is seen on the aircraft, and what is seen by the satellite itself.

Then a couple of days later, on 1st April we were treated to multiple fly overs from the NASA Operation IceBridge P3. This is the biggest of the three aircraft and carries a comprehensive set of instruments for assessing the state of the sea ice.

Combined with the measurements that the ground teams made – thousands of snow depth measurements, ice thickness measurements, our radar penetration measurements – we have collected an incredible wealth of data on this sea ice floe. There will be a lot of analysis to do but it should shed some real light on how we measure sea ice using CryoSat-2 and hopefully even improve our methods.

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