IceBird

IceBird ice thickness surveys carried out with the Polar 5 and Polar 6 aircraft between 2009 and 2017.

Objectives

The AWI IceBird program is a series of airborne surveys to collect measurements of sea ice thickness in the Arctic conducted by the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI). Airborne surveys provide insight into composition and properties of the ice in general and how it changes over time. IceBird’s ice thickness measurements use a tethered electromagnetic sensor, the EM-Bird, towed by research aircraft 50 feet/ 15 m above the ice surface.  The AWI IceBird campaigns take place twice a year: In summer (August) and winter (March/April), when sea ice extent and thickness are at their minimum and maximum, respectively. To cover large distances over sea ice, we operate the research aircraft Polar 5 and Polar 6 from the following bases:

  • Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway
  • Station Nord,  North-East Greenland
  • CFSAlert, Canada
  • Eureka weather station, Canada
  • Resolute Bay, Canada
  • Inuvik, Canada
  • Barrow, US

IceBird is a continuation of earlier campaigns (TIFAX, PAMARCMIP) made north of Svalbard, Greenland, and Canada. IceBird campaigns are frequently carried out in close collaboration with other projects, e.g. with the European Space Agency’s Cryosat Validation Experiments (CryoVEx) and NASA’s Operation Icebridge (OIB).

Contact

Prof. Dr. Christian Haas (Section Head)
Dr. Stefan Hendricks (IceBird winter)
Dr. Thomas Krumpen (IceBird summer)

Upcoming Missions

 

Campaign

Time

Survey Area

Platform

Mission PI

IceBird winter

April 2019

GS, LiS, CAO, BS, CS

Polar 6

Stefan Hendricks

IceBird winter / SPOT

March - April 2019

LiS

MI-8

Thomas Krumpen

IceBird summer / MELTEX

August 2019

GS, LiS, CAO, FS

Polar 5/6

Thomas Krumpen / Gerit Birnbaum

IceBird winter / MOSAiC

April 2020

GS, LiS, CAO, FS

Polar 5/6

Stefan Hendricks

IceBird summer / MOSAiC

July 2020

GS, LiS, CAO, FS

Polar 5/6

Christian Haas / Thomas Krumpen

 

Aircraft Mission since 2010

 

Campaign

Time

Survey Area

Platform

Campaign Report

PAMARCMIP

March - April 2009

GS, LiS, CAO, BS, CS

Polar 5

N/A

SoRPIC

May 2010

FS

Polar 5

N/A

TIFAX

August 2010

GS, LiS, CAO, FS

Polar 5

Download

PAMARCMIP

March - April 2011

GS, LiS, CAO, BS, CS

Polar 5

N/A

TIFAX

August 2011

GS, LiS, CAO, FS

Polar 5

Download

PAMARCMIP

April 2012

GS, LiS, CAO

Polar 5

N/A

TIFAX

July 2012

GS, LiS, CAO, FS

Polar 5

Download

SMOSIce 2014

March 2014

BaS

Polar-5

N/A

PAMARCMIP / NETCARE

March - April 2015

GS, LiS, CAO, BS, CS

Polar-6

N/A

MELTEX / TIFAX

August 2016

GS, LiS, CAO, FS

Polar 5

N/A

TIFAX

July - August 2016

GS, LiS, CAO, FS

Polar 6

Download

PAMARCMIP

March - April 2017

GS, LiS, CAO, BS, CS

Polar-5

N/A

TIFAX

August 2017

GS, LiS, CAO, FS

Polar 6

Download

IceBird summer

August 2018

GS, LiS, CAO, FS

Polar 6

Download

 

 

Aircraft

Much of AWI’s research is conducted in the inaccessible, ice-covered regions of the Arctic and Antarctic, making research aircraft indispensable. Currently AWI relies on the research planes Polar 5 and Polar 6. These two Basler BT-67 planes are old DC-3 aircraft specially modified for flying under extreme polar conditions and for scientific or logistical missions.

Instrumentation

 

Sensor

Description

Application

EM-Bird

The purpose-built EM-Bird is a towed sensor that measures the combined thickness of the sea ice and its snow layer. The measurement principle is based on electromagnetic induction sounding at a frequency of 4 KHz. More information can be found here: Link

Summer & Winter

Laserscanner

Airborne laserscanner (Riegl VQ580) provide high-resolution information of the sea ice surface topography. This information is used to estimate the roughness of the sea ice surface as well as freeboard, a crucial parameter for remote sensing of sea ice thickness

Summer & Winter

Aerial Photography

A nadir pointing camera for providing photos of the sea ice surface along the survey line of the aircraft.

Summer & Winter

Snow Radar

An ultra-wide band FMCW (frequency modulated continuous wave) radar operating at 2-18 GHz that is used to measure snow depth on sea ice surfaces. The radar is designed by the Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets (CRESIS).

Winter

 

Selected scientific papers

  • Haas, C., Hendricks, S., Eicken, H., Herber, A., Synoptic airborne thickness surveys reveal state of the Arctic sea ice cover, Geoph. Res. Lett., 37, L09501, doi:10.1029/2010GL042652, 2010.
  • Krumpen, T. , Gerdes, R. , Haas, C. , Hendricks, S. , Herber, A. , Selyuzhenok, L. , Smedsrud, L. H. and Spreen, G. (2016): Recent summer sea ice thickness surveys in Fram Strait and associated ice volume fluxes , The Cryosphere, 10 , pp. 523-534 . doi: 10.5194/tc-10-523-2016

Abbreviations of Survey Areas

  • BS - Beaufort Sea
  •  BaS - Barents Sea
  •  CAO - Central Arctic Ocean
  •  CS - Chukchi Sea
  •  FS - Fram Strait
  •  GS - Greenland Sea
  •  LaS - Laptev Sea
  •  LiS - Lincoln Sea

Videos