Scientific Colloquium
January 13, 2016, 3:30 p.m., Building 3 Auditorium

"To the Ends of the Earth: Surveys of Polar Ice from Operation IceBridge "  

Since 2009, NASA's Operation IceBridge mission has been surveying the Earth's polar ice covers with one of the most sophisticated collection of instruments ever assembled on an airborne platform. The combined suite of instruments include laser and radar altimeters, optical and infrared cameras, gravimeters, and magnetometers to provide an extraordinarily detailed look into the changes of the Earth's great ice sheets on Greenland and Antarctica as well as the floating sea ice in the Arctic and Southern Oceans. Major scientific findings from the mission have included documenting the contribution of polar ice sheets and Alaskan glaciers to sea level rise, the revelation of the destabilization of marine based ice sheets for the Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica and ZachariŠ Isstr°m in Greenland, and provided a key link in understanding the complex radar returns from the CryoSat-2 altimeter to enable determination of Arctic sea ice volume loss since the beginning of the ICESat laser altimetry mission in 2003. In this talk, an overview of the IceBridge instrument suite will be given with their ties to major scientific findings. Lastly, a look at some of the breathtaking images and videos of the remote regions visited by IceBridge will be shown to give perspective on the surreal beauty and unique landscapes formed by the accumulation of ice and snow over millions of years.

About the Speaker:

Nathan Kurtz received the B.S. degree in physics from Iowa State University, Ames, IA in 2004, and the M.S. degree in atmospheric physics and the Ph.D. degree from the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), Baltimore, in 2007 and 2009. He joined the Cryospheric Sciences Laboratory at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in 2013 as a research physical scientist. He is currently the project scientist for the Operation IceBridge mission with research interests in microwave and laser remote sensing of sea ice and snow thickness.

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