IceBridge: Laser and Radar Altimetry

First Class Midshipmen Eric Brugler who is an honors Oceanography major at the United States Naval Academy.  He is interested in the polar regions of the earth because he believes they play a very important role to the earth’s climate system.

First Class Midshipman Brugler with P-3

First Class Midshipman Brugler with P-3 (Photo by Lt. Cmdr. Woods)

Today we flew again and went right by the North Pole. The NASA P-3 went two degrees to the left of it if you can picture looking straight down on top of earth.

The flights are usually about 7-8 hour missions, so I woke up early and went to breakfast. After we got on our track over the sea ice, it was difficult to get good measurements because the clouds were so thick. The lasers need clear skies. So the plane went to 1,000 feet, which is very low. This made it exciting to look out the windows and see the sea ice below passing by really quickly. After we descended though, the laser altimeters began working better and collecting good data.

We landed around 3:30 p.m., and I headed back to the North Star Inn to meet with a NOAA scientist Larry Connor. Dr. Connor wrote a paper looking at laser and radar altimetry measurements, so it was great getting to ask him questions about his work. In just a twenty minute conversation with him, he was able to answer all the questions that were forming in my head from hours of reading and studying his paper.

It was my last night here, so I went to the Top of the World club to say my goodbyes to all the engineers and scientists I got to meet during my trip to Thule Air Base, Greenland.

I learned so much in my short week here; all the equipment on-board is so complex and it measures features of the Arctic in order for scientists to study the changes this environment is undergoing.

It was reassuring knowing that there are so many intelligent and hardworking people looking at the poles and trying to understand the dynamics of them. I am excited to continue studying polar oceanography and hope to continually learn more as I pursue a higher education in graduate school.

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About Carla Voorhees

Carla Voorhees has always been interested in science, from the time she grew string beans under varying conditions for the science fair (3rd grade) to the time she took every math and science class she could during high school. As her path during college and beyond took her somewhat away from the hard sciences, she is thrilled to be a part of the Armed With Science team. Carla holds a B.S. in Electronic Media, Arts, and Communication from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (2007), and an M.B.A. in Design Strategy from the California College of the Arts (2010). She works as a Web Strategist at DOD Public Web.
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