Operation IceBridge: NASA Releases New Photo From Mission’s Spring Survey

Joe MacGregorNASA

Early last week, NASA’s Operation IceBridge was in the news after the space agency shared some unusual photos of ice holes in the Arctic Ocean. While the mission’s latest photo from the mission might not be as baffling to scientists, it nonetheless offered a breathtaking look at a geographical feature in Greenland, as seen aboard what turned out to be one of IceBridge’s longest flights so far.

As explained in a news release from NASA, the new Operation IceBridge photo was taken on Thursday, April 26 as part of its ongoing spring 2018 campaign. The image was taken during a flight that lasted 8.7 hours and showcased a minor mountain ridge in Greenland, separating two ice-covered valleys. NASA also indicated that the photo was taken as scientists gathered data on multiple glaciers, parallel coastal grid lines, and other research sites during last Thursday’s flight.

According to UPI, the ongoing research is important, as various studies have pointed to the faster rise of temperatures in the North and South Pole, a phenomenon that contributes to ice melt and consequently results in faster sea level rise. Operation IceBridge seeks to dive deeper and understand why these things happen, while also coming up with ways to provide more accurate forecasts of how climate change could affect our planet’s polar regions.

Prior to the release of the latest Operation IceBridge photo, scientists spotted a mysterious collection of ice holes about 50 miles from Canada’s Mackenzie River Delta, and as previously reported by the Inquisitr, the IceBridge team was still trying to figure out what caused the circles to form. Team members John Sonntag and Nathan Kurtz were both quoted as saying that they had never seen such circles before, though it’s been speculated that they might represent “drainage features,” or the result of warm currents mixing with the frigid Arctic waters.

For the next few weeks, Operation IceBridge will continue providing three-dimensional photos of polar ice sheets, ice shelves, sea ice, and other features as part of what NASA describes as “the largest airborne survey” of polar ice. The space agency uses multiple scientific instruments to study the changes that the ice in Greenland and the Antarctic goes through over the course of a year, with flights taking place from March to May over the former location, and October to November over the latter.