UCL researchers depart for Arctic to test satellite mission

Apr 06, 2011
Drilling a ridge on an earlier expedition to the Arctic Credit: Dr Katharine Giles

(PhysOrg.com) -- A team of researchers from UCL Earth Sciences departed today for the Arctic to test how well sea-ice thickness is measured by the European Space Agency’s ice satellite CryoSat-2, which originated at UCL.

The project team consists of researchers from UCL ’ Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling (CPOM): Dr Katharine Giles (Natural Environment Research Council postdoctoral fellow), PhD student Rosemary Willatt and Director of CPOM Dr. Seymour Laxon.

CryoSat-2 chief scientist Professor Duncan Wingham, who is based at CPOM, first proposed the in 1999. It was designed to measure changes in ice thickness in the Arctic and Antarctica with unprecedented accuracy, and launched in April 2010 from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The project team have designed an experiment to check how well the radar can see through , which will enable them to test the accuracy of the data from the satellite. They will take measurements at the Arctic using a radar similar to the one on board the satellite to compare them with measurements taken by CryoSat-2 from space.

The researchers will carry the radar onto the sea ice on a sledge, and will study the snow at the same time. Aircraft from the and NASA will also fly over them, taking measurements with radars and lasers to compare what they see on the ice with what CryoSat-2 sees from space.

Dr. Giles explained: “Just as an X-ray can see through our skin, the CryoSat-2 radar can see through clouds and cold, dry snow. Sea ice is often covered by a layer of snow, but that snow is not always cold and dry, and its properties can change from area to area. We will therefore investigate the snow cover in different locations and look at how changes in its properties, such as density and wetness, affect the ability of the to see through it to the beneath.”

It will take the researchers over two weeks to reach the frozen ocean, where they will conduct their experiments.

Explore further: Magnitude-7.2 earthquake shakes Mexican capital

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Arctic sea ice thinning at record rate

Oct 28, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- The thickness of sea ice in large parts of the Arctic declined by as much as 19% last winter compared to the previous five winters, according to data from ESA's Envisat satellite.

CryoSat set for launch

Oct 08, 2005

It's all systems go for the CryoSat spacecraft launch from Russia, European Space Agency officials said Friday.

CryoSat-2 ice mission ready for launch

Mar 30, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- A UK-led CryoSat-2 satellite designed to monitor changes in ice cover at the poles will launch at 13:57 UK time on 8 April 2010 from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Countdown to satellite launch

Oct 06, 2005

The first satellite to accurately measure how fast the Earth's polar ice caps are shrinking will be launched this weekend (on Saturday, October 8) and one of the lead researchers is from the University of Aberdeen.

British climate satellite to be launched

Oct 05, 2005

A British satellite designed to give an extremely accurate picture of climate changes at the Earth's poles is set for launch Saturday from Plesetsk, Russia.

Recommended for you

Magnitude-7.2 earthquake shakes Mexican capital

Apr 18, 2014

A powerful magnitude-7.2 earthquake shook central and southern Mexico on Friday, sending panicked people into the streets. Some walls cracked and fell, but there were no reports of major damage or casualties.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

katgiles
not rated yet Apr 07, 2011
Hi physorg, I'm Dr Katharine Giles. Thanks for putting this article up. You can follow our progress on twitter @katgiles @polarosie @seymourlaxon.

More news stories

China says massive area of its soil polluted

A huge area of China's soil covering more than twice the size of Spain is estimated to be polluted, the government said Thursday, announcing findings of a survey previously kept secret.

UN weather agency warns of 'El Nino' this year

The UN weather agency Tuesday warned there was a good chance of an "El Nino" climate phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean this year, bringing droughts and heavy rainfall to the rest of the world.

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...