National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Wallops Flight Facility


Houston Transit

The  NASA Gulfstream V flew from Thule Greenland back to Houston Texas today with some of the OIB field team. 

The OIB Gulfstream IV charter aircraft carried the rest of the OIB personnel and cargo back to Houston tonight. The teams will de-install the OIB remote sensing instruments from the GV aircraft tomorrow and head back to their homes on Tuesday.

Despite a late start, this was a productive deployment, flying 10 science missions in 11 deployment days. A huge “Thank-you” to everyone who worked hard to make this deployment as successful as possible!

Next sitrep will be for the NASA OIB Fall Antarctic deployment in about a month.

Until then, thanks for following along with our sitreps!

Today’s NASA 5 flight track


The OIB team successfully completed the (modified for Thule basing)  medium-priority land ice mission Helheim-Kangerdlussuaq mission today.  The Gulfstream-V speed and range made it possible to cover several missions normally based from Kanger to Thule which permitted additional science options when the deployment planning and base of operations sifted to Thule due to aircraft issues at campaign start. The weather brief  this morning showed Arctic Ocean and NE Greenland cloud cover, and the forecast of downslope winds keeping this Helheim-Kangerdlussuaq region clear contributed to its selection.

From Matt and the ATM team in Thule:

“We ended our Summer Greenland deployment on a high note by flying the Helheim-Kangerdlugssuaq mission in clear skies today.  The weather was almost perfect, except for a mass of clouds near the center of the ice sheet on the last line, which was expected from the imagery.  Again, all instruments worked well with no issues.

We will be packing up and departing Thule tomorrow morning to arrive back in Houston tomorrow afternoon.  Starting Monday, the teams will begin a quick deinstall of the science equipment from the aircraft and head back home.

Despite a slow start, this campaign turned out to be extremely successful with 10 science flights in 11 days–flying every possible fly day.  It was a pleasure to work with the GV crew, and we are looking forward to our next adventure down in Tasmania in a few weeks.


This was the final science mission of the OIB 2019 Greenland Summer campaign. The OIB teams packed the Gulfstream V and a cargo Gulfstream IV, and both aircraft will transit back to Houston TX tomorrow.

Today’s flight track, a long way south of Thule







T6 Helheim (Matt/ATM, Preliminary Data plots- not for research purposes)

T6 Helheim (Matt/ATM, Preliminary Data plots- not for research purposes)

T6 Helheim (Matt/ATM, Preliminary Data plots- not for research purposes)

T6 Kangerdlugssuaq(Matt/ATM, Preliminary Data plots- not for research purposes)


“Langrangian Racetrack West” and “IS-2/North Glaciers”

Today turned out to be a bit of a “Friday the 13th” mission from the science perspective.

The medium priority sea ice mission “Langrangian Racetrack West” was selected this morning based on the available images and information and also the earlier (12 hours prior) MODIS image show clear enough conditions (the forecast was for no change). As this OIB deployment only flew one prior sea ice mission (and the deployment ending this weekend) , it was deemed “worth a try” at attempting this sea ice mission. After transiting west to the sea ice science site, an unexpected low stratus deck had developed over the entire line (perhaps due to overnight cooling), As the GV could not descend through the layer to get optical data (the snow radar did get data) after one loop around the science racetrack, a real-time decision was made to abort the sea ice mission and head back east to fly portions of science lines from the newly created (in transit) land ice “IS-2/North Glaciers “ mission.

From Matt and the ATM team in the field: “All of the OIB instrumentation operated well, and we are ready to go for our final OIB Greenland flight tomorrow. “

Thanks to John Sonntag and the Gulfstream V pilots for being flexible and adapting to today’s weather driven flight line design “on the fly” mode of operation. Getting data is almost always preferable to an early landing.

Today’s “Friday the 13th” flight track

ATM T6 wide scan elevation plot of crevasses and drainage channels in land ice (Preliminary data- not for research purposes)


IceBridge successfully completed a modified high-priority land ice mission K-EGIG-Summit today (the Gulfstream has enough range to cover some missions designed to be flown from Kangerlussuaq). This mission was selected as K-EGIG-Summit is a high-priority mission and the forecast and Summit station webcam showed clear skies. A sea ice mission was too risky based on weather conditions and low clouds/haze over the sea ice pack.

From Matt and the ATM tema in the field “Another day, another good flight in Greenland for OIB on the GV.  The weather cooperated over central Greenland to allow us to fly the high-priority mission: K-EGIG-Summit.  This mission got a lot of repeat flight lines from the same mission in the spring, and again gave us an up-close view of Summit Station.

All instruments operated without any issues and collected data over nearly all of the data lines, except for a short segment in the southwest corner.”

Today’s flight track with NASA 5 heading back to Thule at altitude.

Summit station (John Sonntag/NASA)

Umanaq B

IceBridge successfully completed the medium priority land ice mission Umanaq B today. This mission was the only viable option due to poor weather and low clouds in Northeast Greenland and also in the Arctic Ocean for high-priority sea ice flights. This mission was redesigned to be flown out of Thule (instead of Kanger) for this campaign and had to be slightly adjusted based on the GV range.  The mission is designed to encounter varying degrees of surface melt and refreezing conditions sampling from lower elevations to higher elevations on the ice sheet.

From Matt in the field, “OIB had another smooth and successful flight in Greenland.  We returned to the western coast of Greenland between Thule and Kangerlussuaq to fly the Umanaq B mission.  Only a couple minutes of data was lost by the optical sensors in the northwestern corner of the survey, but otherwise, all instruments operated with no issues.

Today’s OIB Gulfstream V flight track in red, and the AVIRIS B200 flight track from Thule to Kanger for refueling, and then south towards the USA.

Photos of the west coast of Greenland below (all by Matt Linkswiler)

ATM T6 wide scan elevation plots over crevasses and drainage channels (Preliminary data-not for research use)

ATM T6 wide scan elevation plots over crevasses and drainage channels (Preliminary data-not for research use)

Thomas-Jakobshavn 01

OIB completed the last high priority land ice mission “Thomas-Jakobshavn 01” in overcast conditions.  This mission was chosen because the forecast indicated an air outflow to the west over the ice sheet in the Jakobshavn region, meaning cold dry air blowing down the glacier basin would clear low clouds. A sea ice mission was not viable today due to winds blowing from the east in conjunction with a low pressure system, bringing  in warmer, moister air which created low clouds over the Arctic Ocean sea ice and no clear conditions over the Arctic Ocean science lines. 

All OIB remote sensing instruments on the Gulfstream V “NASA 5” reported good data collection today.  For the majority of the mission there were stratus clouds above the aircraft creating overcast conditions. Low clouds obstructed ATM during roughly 20% of data collection along the IS and IS-2 ground tracks. The low clouds occurred at the northernmost section of these tracks, however radar data was still collected and no low clouds were present to interfere with the OIB optical sensors further south.

From Matt Linkswiler in Thule “Today was a very smooth and successful flight in Greenland for OIB.  We flew 4 hours of data lines over the Jakobshavn basin from our base in Thule, and only ran into a clouds in the northernmost portions of the survey area.  All instruments reported successful operation and data collection, and we are happy to get this high priority flight in the books.

The weather outlook for the next two days isn’t great, but with a little luck, we are hopeful that we will be able to fly a mission or two in the same general region as today.”

“Thomas-Jakobshavn 01” is dedicated to the memory of Dr Robert “Bob” Thomas, who initiated the NASA Arctic Ice Mapping program in 1993, and passed away in 2015.

Today’s flight track to the south of Thule heading to the Jakobshavn Glacier basin.

The NASA OIB Gulfstream V team on the ramp in Thule Greenland (photo by Kyle Krabill’s camera)

Mission scientist John Sonntag taking photos out of the window of the G-V (Linette Boisvert/NASA)

ATM T7 narrow scan elevation data over the Jakobshavn calving front (Preliminary data- not to be used for research purposes)

ATM T6 wide scan elevation data over the same stretch of the Jakobshavn calving front (Preliminary data- not to be used for research purposes)

ATM T6 wide scan elevation data over Dundas Mountain near Thule just before landing.

Sea Ice: Racetrack West

Today OIB completed the high-priority sea ice mission Racetrack West. Due to (typical summer) Arctic Ocean weather (large area of open water causing clouds), today’s patch of clear conditions was the first opportunity to gather summer sea ice data this deployment. The flight track northeast of Greenland also passed over slow moving ice (helpful in comparing to ICESat2 data) and some of the thickest sea ice in the Arctic Ocean. 

The weather was perfect for our first sea ice mission of the campaign.  The OIB Gulfstream V flew three laps of a racetrack pattern north of Greenland in the Lincoln Sea, which allowed us to survey a large variety of ice types in that area.  All instruments performed well, and we also got a zero-latency ICESat-2 overpass.

The weather looks promising for a flight tomorrow with either for another sea ice mission in the same general area, or a land ice mission down near Jakobshavn.

The B-200 team has finished data collection for their campaign, with today’s sea ice flight and will head back to the US later this week.  As an impressive side note, the B-200 was able to sample the same ICESat-2 cross-over location that the GV was sampling during the overpass–so all three platforms collected coincident data for that reference ground track.

Today’s flight tracks with the NASA OIB Gulfstream north of Greenland and the AVIRIS B200 aircraft over north Greenland on the same track. The OIB Gulfstream transited at high altitude to/from the sea ice, the AVIRIS B200 took data from high altitude along its track.

Detail of the south portion of the sea ice flight lines showing the AIRVIS B200 track in yellow and the “racetrack” coverage of the NASA OIN Gulfstream in purple. The racetrack coverage and the 3500’ lidar data altitude provides a wider aircraft swath to compare to ICESat2 satellite data.

Very dramatically ridged sea ice (bottom left) next to less rough ice covered with melt ponds beyond the wind of the plane are the mountains of Cape Morris Jesup, the northernmost tip of Greenland (Linette Boisvert/NASA).

ATM T6 wide scan elevation plot over sea ice below (preliminary data plot, not for research use)

ATM T6 wide scan elevation plot over sea ice below (preliminary data plot, not for research use)

Northeast Grid 05 Prime

OIB completed the Northeast Grid 05 Prime mission today, as the most viable mission due to weather conditions.

Today’s flight was pretty uneventful, in a good way.  All instruments reported successful data collection for the flight.  Only a couple of minutes worth of data at the beginning and end of the flight were lost for the optical instruments due to clouds, but the east coast was completely clear.

The OIB team has a hard down day tomorrow (Sunday), and will resume science flights on Monday.  There is hope that a sea ice flight in the north east might be possible.

Today’s flight track for the NASA Gulfstream V aircraft

Snow filled crevasses (Linette Boisvert/NASA)

Northwest Coastal A

OIB completed the Medium Priority Land Ice Mission today: Northwest Coastal A. The science goal for this mission is to sample different snow and ice at various stages of melt as the GV progressively works to higher elevations from the coast into the ice sheet. All instruments performed well and the mission was very successful.  The B200/AVIRIS team also seemed very pleased with the flight lines that they surveyed from the OIB flight track.  The OIB team is planning for a flight tomorrow on the east coast, if weather permits.

North West coast of Greenland (photo Matt Linkswiler)

North West coast of Greenland (photo Matt Linkswiler)

North West coast of Greenland (photo Matt Linkswiler)

North West coast of Greenland (photo Matt Linkswiler)

Partially refrozen melt lake (photo Matt Linkswiler)

(photo Matt Linkswiler)


The Thule OIB team completed the high-priority land ice mission Zachariae-79N today. The NASA GV encountered some clouds for about 200 nm west of the Greenland ridge, and flew into clear conditions on the north east region of Greenland. OIB remote sensing instruments on the GV worked well today, (with a minor disk issue for ATMT7 narrow scan green causing a small data gap on the return to Thule), and some clouds encountered on the return.

Today ICESat2 overpass (IS-2 RGT 1053) occurred at 0052Z this morning for a latency of 13 hours.

For the second day in a row, NASA had 3 aircraft conducting research over Greenland. The AVIRIS instrument flew on the B200 primarily focusing on the OIB’s northern return track across the Greenland ice sheet, and the OMG Basler BT67 flew a mission along the northwest coast of Greenland.

Flight tracks of all three NASA research aircraft over northern Greenland, The OIB NASA Gulfstream V (N95NA) in purple as it begins to return to Thule, the ICESat2 KingAir B200 AVIRIS aircraft in red as it returns to Thule ahead of the GV, and the OMG Basler BT67 in orange as it flies along the west coast of Greenland working back to Thule.

Melt ponds on Zachariae (photo by Linette McPartland)

ATM T6 wide scan elevation plot over 79N Glacier (preliminary data – not for research purposes)

ATM T6 wide scan elevation plot over 79N Glacier calving front (preliminary data – not for research purposes)