The 2014 OIB Wrap-Up


By Vicky Diaz-Camacho
Spring 2014

 Bruno Camps Raga

Operation IceBridge (OIB) mission researchers concluded their field campaign and returned from Greenland May 24 after 11 weeks on the field.

This year, researchers from Indiana University collaborated with the University of Kansas to collect and back up data for OIB. Carl Leuschen, Deputy Director at CReSIS, was the principal investigator for the arctic campaign.

“IU and KU perform two different set of tasks during a field deployment, both of which are very important to ensuring we collect and back up the best set of data as possible,” Leuschen said.

CReSIS engineering associate Bruno Camps-Raga served as the mission’s radar team lead. For this position, Camps-Raga functioned as the OIB mission liaison for project management and was in charge of registering work updates, requesting special flight maneuvers, and securing additional time to work with the instruments. He worked alongside Jilu Li, a CReSIS assistant research professor who collaborated with personnel from Indiana University to set up the field servers.

IU ran and troubleshot servers on ground and in-flight. The collaboration made sure data collected by KU would properly save to IIU’s SSD drive, to be backed up and ready for processing.  Camps-Raga worked closely with Aaron Wells, a student from IU, to monitor the process.

CReSIS developed four radar systems that were used to obtain data the MCoRDS Radar depth sounder/imager, the Accumulation Radar system, the Snow Radar system, and the Ku-Band Altimeter system. These radars were mounted on the NASA P-3 aircraft and flown over Alaska, Greenland and Canada.

 Bruno Camps Raga

The data collected help researchers understand how Arctic ice is changing, which, according to the IceBridge report published May 28, helps forecast sea ice coverage changes in the summer.  

The field team deployed from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility to Thule Airbase in Greenland on the NASA P-3 aircraft March 10. The WFF team in Virginia included four members from KU and one from IU. The WFF team members were Fernando Rodriguez-Morales, Bryan Townley, and Aaron Paden of KU with Aaron Wells and Patrick Keenan of IU.

“KU typically sends two personnel to operate the radar systems and one person to process the data,” Judith Riley, former CReSIS Project Manager said.

CReSIS field team members included Leuschen, Camps-Raga, Li, and Townley, (all from KU), and Wells (from IU). Wells managed the data collection and storage of the data. Because the mission is roughly 11 weeks long, teams switched personnel out around the middle of the mission.

Though researchers hit a bit of turbulence on some flight days, the missions were successful in terms of data collection. Camps-Raga said the sea-ice flights were ideal for on-flight processing.

“I believe it was a fruitful mission since we got many fly days this season and collected large amounts of radar data,” Camps-Raga said. “Although I lost count after a few weeks, at some point I recall the NASA team telling me that we had already flown the equivalent to twice around the Earth. And that was before the end of the first half of the deployment.”

Scientists and engineers have collaborated with OIB since 2007, marking their fifth year this March. Each year, OIB researchers spend one week in Alaska surveying sea ice north of Alaska as well as the conditions across the Arctic Basin. This year, the teams completed four sea ice science missions: Sea Ice SIZRA on March 15, North Beaufort Loop (with Barrow) March 17, Sea Ice East Beaufort/Fairbanks March 18, and Beaufort Chukchi Diamond on March 19.

Researchers also collected data over sea ice in the Beaufort Sea to support ONR’s Seasonal Ice Zone Reconnaissance Surveys program. In addition, they were able to collect data for the joint NASA/ESA CryoVEx project and provided ESA/CryoVEx with preliminary snow depth estimates for field site selection.

“The missions have all gone well since we started with the IceBridge project,” Leuschen said. “Some of the biggest successes have been the rapid development of the MCoRDS arrays a few years ago. There are always challenges with keeping the systems running and collecting high quality data.”

Li said CReSIS also provided land ice data in time to support three on-going ice-drilling projects.

“The final data products from this season will benefit the whole Cryo community,” he said. “We also collected multi-beam data for developing wide-swath ice bed mapping technology.”

Aside from gathering data and working on the field, OIB also extended opportunities for interested students across the U.S. via live online chat sessions.

“We do this while we are flying and collecting data, and the students get to ask whatever is on their minds,” Camps-Raga said. “We had a couple of groups from Lawrence and Olathe this time!”

The NASA P-3 aircraft shown after landing at Thule Air Force Base. | Photo credit: Bruno Camps Raga