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Scientists endure Arctic for last campaign prior to CryoSat-2 launch
Date:5/9/2008

beneath the plan, and a helicopter with an on-board sensor that measures sea-ice thickness.

A second Twin-Otter is being used to position UK and Canadian scientists on the Greenland Ice Sheet, Devon Ice Cap and Alert and US and Canadian military aircraft are put into action to transport fuel to the Alert station and scientists.

"One of the key experiments will be to acquire coincident airborne and helicopter measurements over sea ice", says Rene Forsberg from the Danish National Space Centre who is responsible for the airborne programme. "In two previous campaigns we have been only partially successful and we would really like to know whether this novel experimental activity is possible and can contribute to the validation of CryoSat data over sea ice."

Launching in 2009, CryoSat-2 is specifically aimed at advancing our understanding of polar ice cover and its response to climate change. CryoSat-2 will measure fluctuations in the thickness of ice both on land and floating in the sea to provide a clear picture of the influence that climate change is having on the Earth's polar ice masses.

There are many challenges associated with building, launching and successfully operating an Earth Observation satellite and amongst the list of challenges is making sure that the resulting data is as accurate and meaningful as possible, which includes an assessment of the extent to which they may be in error.

As the CryoSat signal is sensitive to variations in the properties of snow and ice, it is crucial to understand, and then correct for, changes that occur naturally so that long-term trends can be determined with the highest possible precision.

ESA has therefore gone to considerable lengths to organise the series of CryoVEx campaigns in the Arctic to simulate the measurements that CryoSat-2 will take. This includes flying an airborne version of the CryoSat-2 radar altimeter and a laser altimeter to take measurements of ic
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Contact: Malcolm Davidson
malcolm.davidson@esa.int
31-715-655-957
European Space Agency
Source:Eurekalert

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