NASA's Operation IceBridge-Alaska Survey Plane

©Chris Larsen, University of Alaska-Fairbanks

DHC-3 Otter

This red plane is a DHC-3 Otter, the plane flown in NASA's Operation IceBridge-Alaska surveys of mountain glaciers in Alaska.

Over the past few decades, average global temperatures have been on the rise, and this warming is happening two to three times faster in the Arctic. As the region's summer comes to a close, NASA is hard at work studying how rising temperatures are affecting the Arctic.

NASA researchers this summer and fall are carrying out three Alaska-based airborne research campaigns aimed at measuring greenhouse gas concentrations near Earth's surface, monitoring Alaskan glaciers, and collecting data on Arctic sea ice and clouds. Observations from these NASA campaigns will give researchers a better understanding of how the Arctic is responding to rising temperatures.

The Arctic Radiation - IceBridge Sea and Ice Experiment, or ARISE, is a new NASA airborne campaign to collect data on thinning sea ice and measure cloud and atmospheric properties in the Arctic. The campaign was designed to address questions about the relationship between retreating sea ice and the Arctic climate.

Arctic sea ice reflects sunlight away from Earth, moderating warming in the region. Loss of sea ice means more heat from the sun is absorbed by the ocean surface, adding to Arctic warming. In addition, the larger amount of open water leads to more moisture in the air, which affects the formation of clouds that have their own effect on warming, either enhancing or reducing it.

Credit: Chris Larsen, University of Alaska-Fairbanks larger image

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