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  • Print publication year: 2018
  • Online publication date: July 2018

3 - Observing Polar Environments


Observations in polar environments are discussed, beginning with International Polar Years, the International Geophysical Year, the Tundra Biome project and the Long-term Ecological Research Program. The development of observing networks for climate, frozen ground, and glaciers is traced. In situ measurements of meteorological conditions in both polar regions, North Pole Drifting Stations, and the use of icebreakers are described. Oceanographic observation from ARGO floats and buoys are examined. Upward looking sonar measurements of sea ice draft are described. Remote sensing, beginning with aerial, followed by satellite photography, and mapping of glaciers and snow cover from Landsat, is described. Data from passive microwave sensors and their applications to mapping sea ice, snow water equivalent, and frozen ground are detailed. Radar applications to map sea ice and glaciers at high resolution from satellite, and the application of ground penetrating radar to determine ice sheet thickness and permafrost depth are noted. Interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) is used to map ice stream motion. Radar and laser altimetry are used to map ice sheet elevation and sea ice freeboard and are combined with data from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite to calculate ice sheet mass balance. Finally, reanalysis products are described.

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