ARCHIVED: Project: Research Technologies / PTI Polar Research Operations Center

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Primary UITS contact: Richard Knepper

Last update: May 18, 2017

Description: Support of polar research in partnership with the Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets (CReSIS) at the University of Kansas

Outcome: Indiana University's support of polar research with CReSIS helps scientists better understand the current state of polar ice sheets, and improves our models of the physical interactions of glaciers, sea ice, and ice sheets at both poles. IU provides field data storage and backups, and provides data management, processing, and archival storage for radar data CReSIS collects in Greenland, Chile, and Antarctica.

Milestones and status:

  • May 1, 2017: Operation IceBridge has completed work in Thule, Greenland, and has transited to Kangerlussuaq, where it has completed a number of missions over Greenland as well as the northeast coast of Canada. During the month of April, the team members also flew to Svalbard, Norway, where they expanded their sea ice surveys east and north into the Arctic Ocean. Additional flight lines have continued with the Operation IceBridge P-3 aircraft following CryoVEx and IceSat flight lines in order to provide additional data along these paths.
  • April 1, 2017: The Operation IceBridge team has completed surveys in Fairbanks, Alaska, and has returned to Thule Air Base in Greenland.

    This year, the team has completed joint calibration surveys with other arctic missions, underflying NASA's CryoSat-2 and flying with ESA's CryoVEx and AWI's PAMARCMiP missions along the path of the satellite. These coordinated flights allow multiple data sets to be combined for collection by three different organizations and for confirmation across instruments.

  • March 1, 2017: The Operation IceBridge team is nearly ready to embark to Thule Air Base in Greenland to begin the spring campaign. The Forward Observer system is kitted in the NASA P-3 plane; systems, including a new synthetic aperture radar system designed by engineers at CReSIS, have been prepared; and NASA test flights have been completed. The team will transit from Wallops Flight Facility to Thule Airbase in Greenland on Sunday, March 5.
  • February 1, 2017: Operation IceBridge is preparing for the spring field campaign. Missions will be flown out of Thule, Kangerlussuaq, Fairbanks, and Svalbard. IU's field engineer, Aaron Wells, is preparing the Forward Observer system and ground lab systems for transport to Thule. Kitting of the NASA DC-8 will take place during the week of February 6, and the team will transit to Thule from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility later in February.
  • December 1, 2016: On November 21, the Operation IceBridge DC-8 aircraft landed in Palmdale, California, drawing another OIB campaign to an end. Thanks to favorable weather and a hardworking team, the mission scientists report exceptional scientific work for the campaign as well as successful outreach to both US and Chilean educators, press, and citizens.

    The IU team assisted in the collection of about 60 TB of data including flights during which the OIB group identified and surveyed a massive rift in the Larsen C Ice Shelf.

  • November 1, 2016: The Operation IceBridge team is in Punta Arenas, Chile, having arrived on October 13. The team has completed a number of flights both over sea ice and the Antarctic land mass so far. Weather has been mostly cooperative, allowing the team to fly most of the missions planned for the field season. Minimal issues with data equipment have been encountered.
  • October 1, 2016: The Operation IceBridge team is preparing the NASA DC-8 for the fall campaign at the Dryden Flight Research Center. Aaron Wells, the IU field engineer, is working to install the Forward Observer system in the DC-8 and will be working with the rest of the team to carry out test flights and radar checks prior to transit to Punta Arenas, Chile, where the fall mission will begin.
  • July 1, 2016: Data from the spring season in Greenland are being processed on IU's Big Red II and Karst systems. Systems sent to the field via cargo shipment have returned to IU and are being prepared for the fall mission.
  • June 1, 2016: The IceBridge team has completed land ice surveys from bases in Thule and Kangerlussuaq, including the Jakobshavn and Helheim glaciers. The team completed transit to return to MacDill AFB on May 21. The radar team collected a total of 29 TB for the mission. Field engineer Aaron Wells is in the process of moving the data recorded onto IU systems for processing.
  • May 1, 2016: The IceBridge team has made the transit from MacDill AFB in Tampa, Florida, to Thule AFB in Greenland. Since arrival on April 18, the team has completed three missions for sea ice survey purposes, including a transect of the North Pole and the South Basin.
  • April 1, 2016: The IceBridge team is completing check flights of the NOAA P-3 aircraft after equipment installation. Expected transit to Thule, Greenland, will occur on April 18.
  • March 1, 2016: The Operation IceBridge team is installing instruments and the Forward Observer system in the NOAA P-3 at MacDill AFB in Florida. The team will deploy to Thule Airbase in mid-March for the first flights of the campaign.
  • February 1, 2016: The Operation IceBridge team prepares for the spring 2016 mission. Hardware and software assembly is beginning in the IU PROC. Engineers are inventorying the drives and preparing mission equipment for the start of the season in Greenland. This mission will utilize the NOAA P-3 aircraft based out of MacDill AFB in Florida.
  • January 5, 2016: Operation IceBridge has begun discussions for the spring mission in Greenland. Dates are still being decided for a 6-8 week mission in the spring that will cover Thule, Fairbanks, Alaska, and Kangerlussuaq. IU field team is preparing hardware for the trip.
  • December 1, 2015: Operation IceBridge continues preparation for 2016 missions. Data and computational systems for 2016 missions are being purchased for use that will improve simplicity and robustness of the Forward Observer system and ground lab.
  • November 1, 2015: The IceBridge team at IU and CReSIS is working together to manage data at IU. They are in the process of identifying data on the Data Capacitor system that can be archived, and they are going through the Scholarly Data Archive resources as well.
  • October 1, 2015: Due to aircraft availability, Operation IceBridge work in the field this fall is restricted to a small team, and IU and CReSIS are not working with the IceBridge team. Progress on data movement at IU continues as the IU team works to make Scholarly Data Archive (SDA) use more efficient and plans for a possible spring mission.
  • September 1, 2015: The IU and CReSIS teams are working together to manage raw data transfers to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). New activities with NASA are currently in the planning phase.
  • July 1, 2015: The CReSIS and IU teams have wrapped up data transfer for the spring field season to Greenland, and processing is happening on Big Red II. Archiving of previous field seasons is taking place from the Data Capacitor II system to the Scholarly Data Archive. Both teams are also beginning planning for the next mission, which will occur in spring of 2016.
  • June 1, 2015: The spring IceBridge field mission is complete, having collected over 70 TB of data for the mission. The deployment recorded 33 eight-hour flights over a 10-week period. In Kangerlussuaq, NASA's team was able to deliver data from KU's instruments directly to other field teams based in the area in order to inform their decisions about drilling sites. Field engineer Aaron Wells is preparing data for transfer to KU and to the Data Capacitor II, where it will be available to the KU team for analysis on Big Red II.
  • May 1, 2015: The NASA Operation IceBridge team has returned to Thule Air Base, following a very successful time in Kangerlussuaq. Thanks to good weather, the aircraft was able to fly nearly every day the team spent there. Surveys were made of the Southeast Glacier Survey region as well as the Jakobsheim Glacier.
  • April 1, 2015: Operation IceBridge team members have arrived in Thule and have conducted the first set of flights for the spring field mission, including an overflight of the research vessel Lance, the investigation of a large sea ice lead, and transit to Fairbanks, Alaska. IU's field engineer, Aaron Wells, is managing the Forward Observer system in a new configuration that allows the use of the MCRDS radar system over sea ice. Wells is also managing video retrieval from the NASA forward and nadir cameras on the C-130 aircraft.
  • March 1, 2015: The Operation IceBridge team is beginning to prepare the NASA C-130 aircraft for the spring mission, and is installing instrument hardware and cabling. Due to inclement weather in Chincoteague, the Wallops Flight Facility was closed the third week of February, slowing down some of the kitting process. Operation IceBridge is projected to leave the lower 48 states for Thule Air Base, Greenland, on the week of March 16th.
  • February 1, 2015: IU field engineer Aaron Wells has taken the Forward Observer cluster to the University of Kansas for testing with CReSIS radar computers. Preparations are largely complete for shipping the computer systems to NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, VA.
  • January 1, 2015: All data from the fall Operation IceBridge mission have been processed on Quarry and Big Red II. Engineers have started planning for the spring IceBridge mission to Thule, Greenland, Fairbanks, Alaska, and Kangerlussuaq, Greenland. The IceBridge mission will fly a different aircraft than usual, NASA's C-130 Hercules.
  • December 1, 2014: Operation IceBridge has returned from Punta Arenas, Chile, having completed a number of surveys of land ice, including English Coast and Thwaites Glacier. IU's field engineer has returned to Bloomington and is preparing the data gathered during the fall OIB Mission to be processed on Quarry and Big Red II.
  • November 1, 2014: The team is at Punta Arenas and has completed multiple sea ice and land flights. The Operation IceBridge DC-8 has overflown Thwaites Glacier, Hull Glacier, and the Pine Island region. Pine Island Glacier is a particularly high priority mission, the site of a very large crack and iceberg calving area.
  • October 1, 2014: Test flights have been completed at the Dryden Flight Research Center, and the IU team is prepared to leave for Punta Arenas for the fall mission.
  • September 1, 2014: The IU team has shipped the Forward Observer and associated systems to NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, to be mounted in NASA's DC-8 aircraft.
  • August 1, 2014: The IU team has completed archiving data sets from previous mission seasons, and planning continues for the fall OIB season. The IU team is preparing the Forward Observer system for return to the field.
  • July 1, 2014: The CReSIS team from the University of Kansas is processing the most recent data sets on Big Red II via the Data Capacitor II. Planning for the next Operation IceBridge mission is in place, with IU field engineers heading to Punta Arenas, Chile, aboard the NASA DC-8 aircraft on September 15.
  • June 1, 2014: Operation IceBridge has returned from its spring mission and IU staff participated in the download and de-kit of hardware and data from the NASA P-3 aircraft. The spring mission captured almost 90 TB of radar data from the MCoRDS, Snow, and KU-band radars. Aaron Wells and Patrick Keenan provided field IT support for the radar equipment and data capture.

    In IU's Polar Research Operations Center, IU staff will make the data available to CReSIS for research, processing, and analysis.

  • May 1, 2014: The Operation IceBridge mission transited to Kangerlussuaq for three weeks and has returned to Thule Air Base. Missions included surveys of the Helheim, Kangerlugssuaq, and Midgard glaciers on the east coast, the North Pole transect, and the Humboldt 01 mission surveying the northwest coast of Greenland. IU engineers have assisted in the collection of nearly 60 TB of ice sheet data.
  • April 4, 2014: The Operation IceBridge mission has started the spring field mission. On March 10, the IceBridge team transited from Wallops Flight Facility to Thule Air Base, Greenland, and conducted surveys of sea ice to the north and west of northern Greenland. During the week of March 24, the team went to Fairbanks, Alaska, for data collection over northern Canada and Alaska, returning to Thule within the week. On April 4, the IceBridge team transited from Thule to Kangerlussuaq to do glacier surveys over southeast Greenland.
  • March 1, 2014: Preparations for the Operation IceBridge spring mission have begun, and IU engineers have installed the Forward Observer system on NASA's P-3 aircraft at Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Test flights will begin during the week of March 3, and the aircraft will transit to Thule Air Base, Greenland, shortly after. Drives and equipment have arrived in Bloomington and are being copied from the PROC to IU's Data Capacitor II system for analysis on Big Red II.
  • February 1, 2014: Cyberinfrastructure from the two Antarctic missions is on its way back to IU, apart from a few cases used in the I-189 Basler mission. A drastic storm occurred during the loading of the freighter carrying cargo from McMurdo back to Port Hueneme, California, damaging the ice pier used for loading. The Polar Research Operations Center has been set up in order to accommodate the data when it returns to IU.
  • January 1, 2014: The WISSARD camp team has been in place since early December. The field team will complete its flights on January 9 and return to McMurdo station on January 10. Over 40 TB of data on the Whillans Ice Stream and surrounding areas have been collected using the DC-3 Basler aircraft with CReSIS radar equipment. Field engineer Aaron Wells has been responsible for backups and processing on the ground at WISSARD.
  • December 1, 2013: Operation IceBridge science flights from McMurdo have been completed, and the P-3 will complete a transit today to Christchurch, New Zealand, while recording sea ice data. Justin Miller, field engineer for IU, assisted in the storage and processing of over 12 TB of ice sheet data.

    The WISSARD camp team from KU with IU field engineer Aaron Wells has reached Christchurch and will transit to McMurdo for a short time on its way to the WISSARD camp, where it will begin science flights shortly after.

  • November 1, 2013: IU and CReSIS teams have completed kitting of the P-3 Aircraft at Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Test flights will commence next week, and the team will deploy to McMurdo station via Christchurch, New Zealand later this month.

    The I-189 Basler mission will deploy to the WISSARD camp at the end of November, where it will conduct aerial surveys over the Binshadler Ice Stream and Whillans Ice Stream.

  • October 1, 2013: IU field teams are preparing for kitting the NASA P-3 aircraft at Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The IU management team is working out contingency planning for the mission in light of the recent government shutdown. Cargo for the mission is ready to be shipped out from IU and the field system training is complete for IU's field engineer.
  • September 1, 2013: Polar field teams are preparing equipment for two field missions this fall. First, the NASA Operation IceBridge team will take its P-3B Orion aircraft to McMurdo base, a new base station for this year's mission. Second, the I-189 Basler mission will be on an ice camp in Antarctica, flying a Basler Turboconverted DC-3 aircraft, to survey ice sheets. IU polar field engineers Aaron Wells and Justin Miller will be assisting University of Kansas staff in collecting and processing ice sheet data for the missions.
  • August 1, 2013: Matt Standish from the IU field team has been invited to attend the NSF Polar Cyberinfrastructure Workshop in September at the University of Minnesota. At the conference, he will discuss polar research needs for cyberinfrastructure.
  • July 1, 2013: Planning discussions for the NSF and NASA missions in Antarctica for fall 2013 have begun. The IU field team has started organizing field gear in the IU Data Center.
  • June 1, 2013: Preliminary processing of data on the Quarry system is complete.
  • May 1, 2013: The OIB team has completed its last science flight and is preparing to return to base at the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Currently, Thule Air Base is under Storm Condition Charlie, which has caused the base to close. When the storm clears, the P-3 team will begin packing and prepare the P-3B aircraft to return to the United States. The science team has collected over 30 TB of radar data in all.

    Researchers at CReSIS have started processing data on the Quarry system. Discussions begin about making use of the Big Red II system for processing of radar data.

  • April 15, 2013: The OIB team has completed eight flights out of Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, including surveys of the Jakobshavn and Helheim glaciers, Baffin Island, and Geikie. The mission has collected 22 TB of radar data so far.
  • April 1, 2013: The Operation IceBridge P-3B successfully transited to Thule, Greenland. On March 21, the IceBridge Team arrived in Fairbanks, Alaska. The OIB team completed three science flights from Fairbanks before returning to Thule on March 26. Since March 26, the OIB team has completed two science flights. Currently the P-3B is being repaired for a broken fuel pump. Aaron Wells from IU has rotated in from IU Bloomington to assist with field data operations on the P-3B.

    The P-3 team has returned to the US and processing of data captured in the Spring 2013 mission has begun. IU administrators have begun copying data from field equipment to the Data Capacitor where it can be processed by researchers at CReSIS.

  • March 1, 2013: IU staff are at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility installing equipment on the NASA P-3 Orion Aircraft. Test flights will be conducted on March 13 and 14, and the team is scheduled to fly to Thule Air Base, Greenland, on March 18.
  • February 1, 2013: The IceBridge team has set dates for transits and science flights for the spring mission. Gear will ship to Wallops Flight Facility on February 18.
  • January 15, 2013: Planning has begun for the 2013 spring season in Thule and Kangerlussuaq. Using NASA's P-3 platform, teams will survey sea and land ice formations, and perform a survey mission to Fairbanks, Alaska. Both the MCoRDS and FMCW radars (previously Snow and KU Band) will be deployed. Matt Standish will be leading the IU contingent of the team for field data and processing support.
  • December 1, 2012: The IceBridge team has completed all of its flights for the year and the NASA DC-8 has returned to Palmdale, California. This has been the first set of flights with an in-flight multiple-copy data system capable of processing the radar data while in the air. This system has significantly reduced the time required to get visualization of the ice surveyed by the field team and allowed processing tasks to be complete by the time the team returns to the airfield. The system collected 21 TB of radar data, completing all planned flights earlier than expected. The team is back at home and full data processing for the fall season is ready to commence on IU's Quarry system.
  • November 1, 2012: The Operation IceBridge team has conducted multiple flights over Antarctica for the 2012 fall mission. Typical flights are 11 hours long, covering a distance longer than a flight from Los Angeles to New York every few days. New equipment for this field mission allows for data collected in flight to be processed on the transit back from Antarctica to Punta Arenas, where the mission is based, processing data in about two hours, where previous missions required overnight processing of data.
  • October 1, 2012: Engineers from IU have completed installation of equipment in the NASA DC-8 at the Dryden Flight Research Center in Palmdale, California. The dual-copy in-flight system was successfully tested in the DC-8 on the ground using data from radar computers installed by CReSIS. IU engineers are preparing the field lab that will complete processing tasks in Punta Arenas, Chile. The mission will leave Dryden for Punta Arenas on October 8.
  • August 20, 2012: Engineers at IU have begun preparing equipment for the fall season in Chile. IU is creating a new in-flight data copy system for archiving and processing data as soon as it is collected by the radar systems mounted in NASA's DC-8 aircraft.
  • July 16, 2012: All of the Greenland trip equipment has returned to IU and Kansas, and processing of the spring 2012 field season is in progress.
  • June 18, 2012: The NASA P-3 has been de-kitted, and data is on its way back from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia to be processed at IU. Initial hand-carry data sets are now being processed on the Quarry cluster.
  • May 21, 2012: IceBridge science flights concluded for the Spring 2012 season. NASA conducted a record number of flights over northwest Greenland, and had a record low number of weather issues. Justin Miller, the final field engineer from IU for the IceBridge flights, completed the collection of more than 80 TB of data from the NASA P-3 platform. The P-3 experienced an engine issue, and is returning to NASA's Wallops Flight Facility with the IceBridge crew and cargo.
  • April 17, 2012: Operation IceBridge flights returned to Thule, and have completed the transit to Kangerlussuaq. Matt Standish rotated out of the field, and Collin Gayde rotated into the expedition. 18 TB of radar data were brought back from the field in rotation. Data transfer of all of the fall 2011 field seasons (Twin Otter flights and DC-8 flights) is complete, and researchers are processing data captured during Antarctic flights.
  • March 19, 2012: The Operation IceBridge team completed its transit from Thule Air Base to Fairbanks, Alaska, running 1,600-mile-long surveys of sea ice across the Arctic Basin. The team returned to Thule, starting midnight tonight. Radar surveys were completed on the way to Thule, as well.
  • February 21, 2012: The truck with gear for the Greenland 2012 Operation IceBridge missions left IU, headed for NASA's Wallops Flight Facility. The gear will be installed on the RIB P-3 aircraft, and prepared for flight to Thule Air Base, Greenland, during the second week of March. IU's field engineers began their preparation to head to Thule Air Base for the spring field season. Data transfer from the 2011-2012 Antarctic Twin Otter field season began. Data gathered during flights originating from the McMurdo base are stored on IU's Data Capacitor and Scholarly Data Archive (SDA).
  • January 30, 2012: Packing and consolidation for Greenland 2012 field season commenced. IU's field data collection space started processing drives for KW researchers, beginning deep processing of data collected in Chile in 2011, and data collected by the McMurdo team in 2011 and 2012.
  • January 4, 2012: The McMurdo team completed 15 Twin Otter flights, collecting 24 TB of radar data. The McMurdo team flew an average of nine hours per day on flight days, stopping at fuel pits located on the ice. Surveys were made from Pegasus Field over the Byrd Glacier.

    Field gear from the 2011 Chile P-3 flights returned to IU, and engineers copied data to the Data Capacitor.

  • November 28, 2011: The Punta Arenas field team returned from Chile, having captured over 40 TB of radar data on 24 flights on the NASA DC-8. Flights surveyed the George VI Ice Shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula, the Larsen Ice Shelf, and Crosson Ice Shelf, among others. During the flights, CReSIS researchers surveyed, and measured the expansion of, a crack in the Pine Island Glacier. NASA scientists estimate the crack could result in a glacier larger than 880 square kilometers.

    The McMurdo team deployed to McMurdo base in Antarctica, and began testing equipment for flights in the Twin Otter aircraft.

  • October 26, 2011: At this point, the NASA DC-8 has flown 10 field missions as part of the 2011 Antarctic field season (more than 1.6 times around the world). IU field engineer Matt Standish provided data collection, backup services, and radar data processing support.
  • October 17, 2011: The NASA DC-8 completed a mountain and glacier survey over Marie Byrd Land.
  • October 11, 2011: Data collection on the DC-8 began, monitoring the team's 11-hour sea ice mission in the Weddell Sea.
  • October 10, 2011: NASA's DC-8 and flight crews arrived in Punta Arenas to begin the 2011 Antarctic field season (for photos, see IceBridge, Antarctica 2011).
  • September 14, 2011: Data backup gear was shipped for fall field expeditions in Punta Arenas, Chile, and McMurdo Station, Antarctica. Field engineers will leave Indiana soon to meet with KW researchers to prepare for the trip.

    Data was transferred to IU's Data Capacitor system. The team began processing radar data on IU's Quarry compute cluster.

Upcoming events and presentations:

  • Weekly operations meeting for Polar Research Support

Comment process: Send general comments to Richard Knepper.

Client impact: The stable, secure data storage, and assistance with data management IU provides allows CReSIS scientists to focus on improving the radar systems used for collecting data, and processing algorithms for analyzing data.

Aids achievement of the following Empowering People Actions:

  • Recommendation A1
    • Action 5: Philosophy of abundance. IU should pursue strategies that approximate a philosophy of abundance, within reason, towards unmetered availability of basic IT services, support, and infrastructure for creative activity, storage, computation, communication, and other activities fundamental to the work of the university via any appropriate sourcing strategy. (EI leads; RT supporting)
    • Action 6: Leveraging partnerships. IU should continue its highly successful program of relationships with hardware, software, and services vendors, and seek additional partnerships and creative exchanges that provide mutual benefits. (S leads; RT supporting)
  • Recommendation A4
    • Action 16: External funding. OVPIT should continue to lead and expand its efforts to effectively partner with academic units, campuses, administrative units, or individual investigators for external funding opportunities. (PTI leads; RT supporting)
  • Recommendation B9
    • Action 33: Research data utility. IU should provision a data utility service for research data that affords abundant near- and long-term storage, ease of use, and preservation capabilities. (RT leads)
  • Recommendation C15
    • Action 70: IT-enabled research. IU should purposefully select areas of great and timely promise for strategic development of IT-enabled research, scholarship, and/or creative activity. (PTI leads)
    • Action 71: IT-enabled research resources. IU should identify a base of resources to provide both initial and sustained investments in selected areas for IT-enabled research, scholarship, and/or creative activity. This may include reallocating current resources and developing new ones, including endowments, grants, and/or additional fees. (RT leads)

Project team:

  • Richard Knepper: Operations and field management
  • Dave Hancock: Operations and processing management
  • Matt Standish: Field engineer
  • Justin Miller: Field engineer


  • Richard Knepper
  • Matt Link

This is document bbff in the Knowledge Base.
Last modified on 2018-01-18 17:51:39.

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