Shutdown imperils NASAs decadelong icemeasuring campaign

first_img This year’s 8-week Arctic campaign was set to start 4 March from Thule Air Base in Greenland. But the shutdown has delayed maintenance and outfitting of the aircraft NASA uses—a low-flying P-3 Orion—forcing a later start date.Researchers are crestfallen. The measurements are among IceBridge’s most important because they will be simultaneous with those made by ICESat-2, which launched in September 2018. That will help ensure the satellite’s accuracy and calibrate its results with past records. “We expected to be in an ideal position this spring,” Sonntag says. (He can talk to the media, he noted, because he is a NASA contractor who is still getting paid. Many NASA employees on his team are furloughed.)IceBridge could still lose more time. The flights must take place before the melt season, and the P-3 is already scheduled to move to the Philippines immediately after its polar flights for a monsoon-monitoring experiment. As a result, the delay “could get worse if the shutdown goes on,” says Eric Rignot, a glaciologist at the University of California, Irvine, and a leader of the IceBridge science team.One bit of good news is that NASA recently allowed maintenance work to begin on the P-3, which is based at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Even if that work is done, the science team does not have permission to enter the facility to mount its instruments, including a laser meant to match ICESat-2’s remarkably precise altimeter. In the meantime, NASA’s closure means work on understanding the new ICESat-2 data has slowed to a crawl, says Ben Smith, a glaciologist at the University of Washington in Seattle. “One main thing we’re missing right now is the people at NASA who have the big picture, who get everyone to work together.”The IceBridge and ICESat-2 data sets will be merged even if the spring campaign is canceled, which would be “inexcusable,” adds Beata Csatho, a remote-sensing glaciologist at the University at Buffalo, part of the State University of New York system. But Smith says a cancellation could make it harder to fix any systematic errors that crop up in the satellite data. “If you’re planning for the worst,” he says, “you definitely want to get this set of measurements.”It’s not the first time IceBridge has faced a shutdown. In 2013, a 16-day budget impasse cut what could have been a 6-week campaign to 9 days. That has left uncertainty about ice loss that continues to disappoint Sonntag to this day. “I have never been so angry and frustrated,” he recalls. But with the current shutdown, he’s getting close. Delayed maintenance work means NASA’s P-3 Orion will miss at least half of its IceBridge campaign to measure Arctic sea ice. Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) By Paul VoosenJan. 18, 2019 , 3:10 PM Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country The spreading effects of the partial U.S. government shutdown have reached Earth’s melting poles. IceBridge, a decadelong NASA aerial campaign meant to secure a seamless record of ice loss, has had to sacrifice at least half of what was supposed to be its final spring deployment, its scientists say. The shortened mission threatens a crucial plan to collect overlapping data with a new ice-monitoring satellite called the Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2).The nearly monthlong spending impasse between Congress and President Donald Trump, “throws a giant wrench into that long-developed plan,” says John Sonntag, an IceBridge mission scientist at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.NASA, among the many research agencies mostly closed by the shutdown, launched IceBridge in 2009 after the failure of ICESat-1, the agency’s first laser-based ice-monitoring satellite. To fill the gap until ICESat-2 was launched, the agency funded annual aircraft flights over the Arctic and Antarctica. IceBridge scientists sought to match the satellite data by flying similar paths over glaciers and sea ice, using the reflected light of a laser altimeter to measure ice and snow height.center_img Christy Hansen/NASA (CC BY) Email Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Shutdown imperils NASA’s decadelong ice-measuring campaignlast_img read more