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


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,<link en focus sea-ice remote-sensing.html> 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<link en expedition aircraft polar-5-6.html> 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).


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

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