First ICESat-2 International Information Launched: Ice, Forests and Extra

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From NASA International Local weather Change

To assess the accuracy of the newly released ICESat-2 data, a NASA team set out to the South Pole. For the second-straight year, the team endured below-freezing temperatures, biting winds, and high altitude to conduct a traverse along the 88 degree south latitude line, taking highly accurate GPS measurements to compare with those from the satellite. Credit: NASA Goddard/Kelly Brunt

To evaluate the accuracy of the newly launched ICESat-2 information, a NASA staff got down to the South Pole. For the second-straight yr, the staff endured below-freezing temperatures, biting winds, and excessive altitude to conduct a traverse alongside the 88 diploma south latitude line, taking extremely correct GPS measurements to match with these from the satellite tv for pc. Credit score: NASA Goddard/Kelly Brunt

By Kate Ramsayer,
NASA’s Goddard House Flight Middle

Greater than a trillion new measurements of Earth’s top – blanketing every little thing from glaciers in Greenland, to mangrove forests in Florida, to sea ice surrounding Antarctica – are actually accessible to the general public. With thousands and thousands extra observations added every day, information from NASA’s Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite tv for pc-2 is offering a exact international portrait of elevation and can enable scientists to trace even the slightest modifications within the planet’s polar areas.

“The info from ICESat-2 are actually blowing our minds, and I’m actually excited to see what folks with totally different views will do with it,” mentioned Lori Magruder, a senior analysis scientist on the College of Texas, Austin, and the ICESat-2 science staff lead.

The long-awaited ICESat-2 mission, launched in September 2018, continues the report of polar top information begun with the primary ICESat satellite tv for pc, which operated from 2003 to 2009. NASA’s airborne Operation IceBridge mission bridged the info hole between the 2 satellites. The brand new satellite tv for pc offers way more measurements than its predecessor. ICESat took roughly 2 billion measurements in its lifetime, a determine ICESat-2 surpassed inside its first week.

For the second straight yr, NASA researchers endured low temperatures, biting winds, and excessive altitude to conduct one other 88-South Traverse. The 470-mile expedition in one of the barren landscapes on Earth offers one of the best technique of evaluation of the accuracy of knowledge collected from house by the Ice Cloud and land Elevation Satellite tv for pc-2 (ICESat-2). Credit score: NASA’s Goddard House Flight Middle/Ryan Fitzgibbons. This video is on the market for obtain at NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio.

When ICESat orbited over a rift in Antarctica’s Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf in October 2008, for instance, it recorded a handful of knowledge factors indicating a crevasse within the ice. When ICESat-2 handed over 10 years later, it collected lots of of measurements tracing the sheer partitions and jagged flooring of the rising rift.

ICESat-2 is taking these measurements in a dense grid throughout the Arctic in addition to Antarctica, recording every spot each season to trace each seasonal and annual modifications in ice.

ICESat-2’s capacity to measure heights past the poles can also be impressing scientists – Magruder pointed to coastal areas, the place in clear waters the satellite tv for pc can detect the seafloor as much as 100 toes (30 m) under the floor. Over forests, the satellite tv for pc not solely detects the highest of the cover, however the forest flooring under – which can enable researchers to calculate the mass of vegetation in a given space.

All that is being finished with six laser beams from a satellite tv for pc 310 miles (500 kilometers) in house, famous Tom Neumann, ICESat-2 mission scientist at NASA’s Goddard House Flight Middle in Greenbelt, Maryland.

“Getting the precise latitude, longitude, and elevation of the place a photon bounced off Earth is tough – plenty of issues must occur and go actually, rather well,” he mentioned. To verify every little thing is working, the science staff conducts a collection of checks utilizing information from airborne surveys, ground-based campaigns, even the satellite tv for pc itself.

That features scientists travelling to Antarctica, the place they drove modified snow-groomers alongside an arc of the 88-degree-south latitude line, taking extremely correct elevation measurements to match with the info collected by ICESat-2 in house. Magruder in contrast measurements taken in White Sands, New Mexico, with what the satellite tv for pc was monitoring. In its most up-to-date Antarctic and Arctic campaigns, NASA’s airborne Operation IceBridge flew particular routes designed to take measurements over the identical ice, at near or precisely the identical time the satellite tv for pc flew overhead.

ICESat-2 is designed to exactly measure the peak of ice and monitor the way it modifications over time. Earth’s melting glaciers trigger sea ranges to rise globally, and shrinking sea ice can change climate and local weather patterns removed from the planet’s poles.

Small modifications throughout huge areas just like the Greenland ice sheet can have giant penalties. ICESat-2 will be capable of measure the shift in annual elevation throughout the ice sheet to inside a fraction of an inch. To do that, the satellite tv for pc makes use of a laser altimeter – an instrument that occasions how lengthy it takes gentle to journey to Earth’s floor and again. With that point – together with the information of the place in house ICESat-2 is, and the place on Earth the laser is pointing – laptop packages create a top information level. The info is initially processed at NASA Goddard, then was superior information merchandise that researchers will be capable of use to review elevations throughout the globe.

ICESat-2 information merchandise are actually accessible at no cost from the Nationwide Snow and Ice Information Middle at https://nsidc.org/information/icesat-2.

For extra data, go to www.nasa.gov/content material/goddard/icesat-2 or https://icesat-2.gsfc.nasa.gov/. For extra data on the info merchandise, go to https://earthdata.nasa.gov/icesat-2-data.

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