Operation IceBridge 2017


Now Archived! PolarConnect event with Adeena Teres and John Woods from the Operation IceBridge Team on 24 April 2017. You can access this and other events on the PolarConnect Archives webpage.

What Are They Doing?

Photo by Russell HoodIcebergs the size of a city block in eastern Greenland. Photo by Russell Hood. IceBridge is in its 8th year as a NASA mission and is the largest airborne survey of Earth's polar ice ever conducted. IceBridge uses a highly specialized fleet of research aircraft and the most sophisticated science instruments ever assembled to characterize yearly changes in thickness of sea ice, glaciers, and ice sheets in the Arctic and Antarctic. The research team is experiencing first-hand the excitement of flying a large research aircraft over the Greenland Ice Sheet. While in the air they are recording data on the thickness, depth, and movement of ice features, resulting in an unprecedented three-dimensional view of ice sheets, ice shelves, and sea ice. Operation IceBridge began in 2009 to bridge the gap in data collection after NASA's ICESat satellite stopped functioning and when the ICESat-2 satellite becomes operational , making IceBridge critical for ensuring a continuous series of observations of polar ice. IceBridge flies over the Arctic and Antarctic every year - in the Arctic from March to May and the Antarctic in October and November. By comparing the year-to-year readings of ice thickness and movement both on land and on the sea, scientists can look at the behavior of the rapidly changing features of the polar ice and learn more about the trends that could affect sea-level rise and climate around the globe. Support for a teacher on this project is provided through separate funding to ARCUS through NASA. More information about IceBridge can be found at the NASA project website.

Where Are They?

NASA's P-3 Orion for Operation IceBridge. Photo by Russell Hood.NASA's P-3 Orion for Operation IceBridge. Photo by Russell Hood. The field campaign for Operation IceBridge is based out of Kangerlussuaq in western Greenland, and Thule Air Force Base in northwest Greenland. Kangerlussuaq was once used as an American military base, the settlement is now Greenland's main air transport hub and the site of Greenland's largest commercial airport, and Thule is a fully operational U.S. Air Force Base, run by the Danish company Greenland Contractors. The climate in Kangerlussuaq and Thule is arctic, with temperatures ranging from -25 to 18 degrees Celsius throughout the year. Russell Glacier highlights some of the natural beauty that can be reached out of Kangerlussuaq, while Thule has lots of historical cold war Air Force sites included missile silos and ice field bases. The research team is living in the Kangerlussuaq International Science Support Building (KISS) and the Air Force Inn in Thule.

Expedition Map


Mountains Kangerlussuaq
Mountains just outside of the town of Kangerlussuaq Greenland. Today all of Greenland was covered in clouds and the prospect of doing a mission did not look good. Every night at 6pm there is a meeting discussing the next day's flight. Monday night we were told that we probably wouldn't fly but that doesn't mean the team gets to sleep in. Weather can change, and even though the night before all hopes of a mission were cloudy, we still got up hoping to have the chance to do some flying. Unfortunately, flying was not an option. The crew of the P-3 Orion is always aware of the weather. When we...
Mountains of Kangerlussuaq
This morning I hiked out to the waterfall. At this time of the year, the word waterfall is a misnomer because everything is frozen and there is no waterfall. I was able to walk on top of the frozen river instead, which was even better than seeing the waterfall. I have never walked on a river before. I went with Kyle Krabill, one of the IceBridge crew, as my guide and we walked down into the river valley. We walked from the truck down a path and then we were on the river. We walked about a half mile on top of the river and then we climbed up the side of the river bed. We could have gone...
Truck used for Ramp Survey
GPS Survey Sunday morning I had to wake up early and help with the GPS survey of the Kangerlussuaq Airport ramp. Ok, so I will admit that there was no 'had to', I wanted to go and see what a GPS survey was and see what it involves. The purpose of the survey is to validate the instrumentation of the P-3 Orion. The data has to be accurate or there is no point in collecting it. The GPS survey of the ramp measures the surface elevation of the ramp which is the flat area of an airport where the planes are parked. When the plane flies over the ramp, it will use the Airborne Topographic Mapper (ATM...
Fjord Greenland
Cool effect of the list on the P-3 Orion's window. This morning we had a late start because there was a minor mechanical problem with the airplane that had to be fixed last night. The crew is required to have a certain amount of rest hours. Since the mechanics were fixing our plane last night, to fit within legal hours we had to push back take off time. This gave me an extra hour of much needed sleep. I woke up and went to the weather office. When I got there Anna, she is the Kangerlussuaq weather guru, mentioned that it was Saturday. I had totally forgotten that today is considered the...
Bedroom Danger Greenland
Kanger First Full Day So far things are going well. The morning got off to a slow start. Getting your footing at a new airport takes some time. There are many procedures that need to be followed and it takes awhile for people to get accustomed to the new schedule. The official time in Kangerlussuaq is an hour later than it was in Thule. Also, we start our missions a half hour later here in Kanger. Even though I didn't actually sleep in. One would think this would make everyone move faster, getting some extra time in the morning but it was the opposite. I was feeling a little lazy this...

Expedition Resources

Project Information

8 April 2017 to 3 May 2017
Location: Kangerlussuaq, Thule AFB, Greenland
Project Funded Title: NASA Operation IceBridge

Meet the Team

Adeena Teres's picture
Stoneman Douglas High School
Parkland, FL
United States

Adeena Teres has taught science at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida for the last nine years. She received her undergraduate degree in Marine Science from the University of South Carolina and her Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Florida Atlantic University.

She believes in hands on learning and teaching through inquiry and she wants her students to look at the natural world and ask questions that they want to have answered. Adeena wants her students to learn how to think critically and to be stewards of the Earth. Several years ago, she ran her first half marathon and has been running ever since. She is obsessed with Disney and has combined her two hobbies by signing up to run every race Disney hosts at the property in Orlando, Florida. She is passionate about traveling both professionally and for fun and she is ready to take on new adventures. Adeena is excited about sharing this amazing opportunity with her students.

Living in Florida, she is extremely experienced in watching snow fall in other states while she reads under the palm trees. It is her fervent desire to build a snowman soon.

John Woods's picture
SGT Inc., NASA Operation IceBridge, GSFC
Greenbelt, MD
United States

John Woods is currently NASA’s Operation IceBridge (OIB) project manager. OIB utilizes a highly specialized fleet of research aircraft and the most sophisticated suite of innovative science instruments ever assembled to characterize annual changes in thickness of sea ice, glaciers, and ice sheets. Prior to working with NASA, John served on Active Duty in the Navy for 14 years as a Meteorology and Oceanography Officer. His tours included the National/Naval Ice Center and United States Naval Academy. John completed his master’s degree in Operational Meteorology and Physical Oceanography at the Naval Postgraduate School and bachelor’s degree in Oceanography at the United States Naval Academy.

Having deployed to the Polar Regions over 6 times, John has spent time in Alaska, Greenland, and the Southern tip of Chile for IceBridge missions. Education and Outreach has always been a passion, and introducing science of the cryosphere has always been a priority. John looks forward to working closely with PolarTREC educators in fulfilling this mission.

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Latest Comments

I'm glad you enjoyed the journal. It is great to be able to go out for a hike. I was singing the climb every mountain song in my head. I miss the 85 degree weather but a winter vacation is fun!!!
In my opinion, snow and mountains are made for reindeers! It does however sound like an awesome strenuous experience. Your​ journal description helped me to imagine myself with you every step of the...
There is not hanger in Kanger. The procedures for both airports are the same, the difference is the time. The missions will dictate how long the crew stays at a certain area. The reason for IceBride...
The Kanger meetings take longer because when we were at Thule the weather was much better and it was easy to analyze all the factors and to make decisions. In Kanger the weather is trickier. It seems...
The plane has been bumpy several times. The plane flies at different altitudes depending on the mission for the day. The radar wasn't working because the flight was so bumpy. Once it calmed down the...