Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Research aircraft Polar 5 returned from spring measurements in the high Arctic

Date:
May 16, 2011
Source:
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres
Summary:
The research aircraft Polar 5 has just returned from a six-week expedition in the high Arctic. One of the key aspects of the expedition were large-scale sea ice thickness measurements in the inner Arctic.

Low altitude of 'Polar 5' with a towed sensor (EM-Bird) to determine the thickness of sea ice.
Credit: Christian Haas, University of Alberta

The research aircraft Polar 5 of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association returned to Bremerhaven from a six-week expedition in the high Arctic on May 6. Joint flights with aircraft of the European and American space agencies (ESA and NASA) were a novelty in sea ice research. Simultaneous measurements with a large number of sensors on three planes underneath the CryoSat-2 satellite led to unique data records. Furthermore, the international team composed of 25 scientists and engineers collected data on trace gases, aerosols and meteorological parameters that will be evaluated at the research institutes involved in the coming months.

The route of the Polar 5 of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association took it from Barrow (Alaska) via Inuvik, Resolute Bay, Eureka, Alert (all in northern Canada) and Station Nord (Greenland) all the way to Longyearbyen on Spitsbergen. These sites were the base stations for the measurement flights to the uninhabited Arctic areas. The total flight time, including measurements and travel time, came to 130 hours. Temperatures below minus 30C in some cases were a challenge for both team and material.

One of the key aspects of the expedition were large-scale sea ice thickness measurements in the inner Arctic, in which researchers of the Alfred Wegener Institute and the University of Alberta cooperated closely. For this purpose they used a four metre long electromagnetic ice thickness sensor, called EM Bird. The Polar 5 towed the sensor on an 80 metre long rope at a height of 15 metres above the ice surface for the surveys. A preliminary evaluation of the measurement results shows that one-year-old sea ice in the Beaufort Sea (north of Canada/Alaska) is about 20-30 centimetres thinner this year than in the two previous years. In 2009 the ice thickness was 1.7 metres on average, in 2010 1.6 metres and in 2011 around 1.4 metres. "I expect that this thin one-year-old sea ice will not survive the melting period in summer," Dr. Stefan Hendricks assesses the situation. In several weeks his colleagues from the sea ice group at the Alfred Wegener Institute will present their model calculations for the sea ice minimum in 2011, which will also include the data now collected.

Joint flights with other polar research aircraft below the orbit of the ESA (European Space Agency) CryoSat-2 satellite marked the highlight of the sea ice thickness measurements. This satellite has been surveying the Arctic sea ice from an altitude of 700 kilometres since summer 2010. The coordinated measurement flights with ESA and NASA aircraft served the purpose of examining the accuracy of CryoSat-2 ice thickness measurements in spring.

Arctic aerosols, which play a role in the formation of clouds, among other things, were another key aspect. Aerosol distribution and the carbon content of the particles in the Arctic were mapped by means of several vertical and horizontal profiles at a low altitude of 60 metres and at a normal flight altitude of 3000 metres. The aircraft measurements were coordinated with the overflights of the CALIPSO satellite, which records global aerosol and cloud distribution data from space. Moreover, meteorological soundings in the central Arctic as well as measurements of trace gases, such as ozone, were carried out. They confirmed the measurements of 2009 that showed very low ozone concentrations over large sections of the Arctic Ocean covered by sea ice. By combining all trace gas measurements in connection with meteorological measurements, it will be possible to better understand the processes of ozone depletion in the air layers up to an altitude of approx. 15 kilometres (troposphere).


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. "Research aircraft Polar 5 returned from spring measurements in the high Arctic." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 May 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110516102253.htm>.
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. (2011, May 16). Research aircraft Polar 5 returned from spring measurements in the high Arctic. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110516102253.htm
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. "Research aircraft Polar 5 returned from spring measurements in the high Arctic." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110516102253.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Great British Farmland Boom

The Great British Farmland Boom

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 17, 2014) Britain's troubled Co-operative Group is preparing to cash in on nearly 18,000 acres of farmland in one of the biggest UK land sales in decades. As Ivor Bennett reports, the market timing couldn't be better, with farmland prices soaring over 270 percent in the last 10 years. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the industry fell under intense scrutiny. Now, small underground nuclear power plants are being considered as the possible future of the nuclear energy. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 16, 2014) Crocodile farming has been a challenge in Zimbabwe in recent years do the economic collapse and the financial crisis. But as Ciara Sutton reports one of Europe's biggest suppliers of skins to the luxury market has come up with an unusual survival strategy - vegetarian food. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Mt. Everest Helped Scientists Research Diabetes

How Mt. Everest Helped Scientists Research Diabetes

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) British researchers were able to use Mount Everest's low altitudes to study insulin resistance. They hope to find ways to treat diabetes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins