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In this Issue:



Issue no. 40, June 2002


Mass Balance of Mountain and Subpolar Glaciers

The Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR) published a new data set that describes the mass balance of mountain and subpolar glaciers. "Glacier Mass Balance and Regime: Data of Measurements and Analysis" (Occasional Paper No. 55) , authored by Mark Dyurgerov, is available through INSTAAR and on CD-ROM or via ftp through NSIDC.

Glacier fluctuations are relevant to the study of climate and climate change. Mountain and subpolar glaciers play a major role in the water cycle; in fact, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported (IPCC-1995 and IPCC-2000) that mountain and subpolar glaciers contributed to up to 20 percent of global sea level rise during the past century. Nevertheless, glaciological data have not been widely used in global-scale hydrology or climate modeling, partly because observational data were not generally available in a convenient format for modeling and analysis.

With the publication of Occasional Paper No. 55, a time series of important glacier parameters is now available for use by the climate and hydrological communities and other scientific disciplines. This extensive data set consists of glacier regime parameters observed for about 280 glaciers between 1945 and 1998. Data, which have been digitized and quality checked, include annual mass balances, ablation, accumulation, and equilibrium-line altitude of mountain and subpolar glaciers outside the two major ice sheets. The compiled information comes from diverse sources, including publications, archived data, and personal communications.

Occasional Paper No. 55 contains not only raw data, but also provides a global analysis of the regimes of mountain and subpolar glaciers in the context of present-day climate, the water cycle, and other environmental processes. These data will provide valuable input to models in hydrology, geomorphology, climatology, and paleoclimatology. Access the paper via NSIDC's data catalog or INSTAAR.

sea level change

NASA's Aqua Satellite Launched

NASA's Aqua satellite launched successfully on May 4, 2002 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The Aqua mission will collect information about the Earth's water cycle. Sea ice and snow albedo data from Aqua's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradio-meter (MODIS) will be available from NSIDC in late summer. NSIDC will also distribute data products from the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer Earth Observing System (AMSR-E) instrument, but these data will be available no earlier than February 2003. For more information, please visit NASA's Aqua Web site and NSIDC's AMSR-E Web page.

MODIS Climate Modeler's Grid Products Available

NSIDC released daily and 8-day MODIS snow cover products in a climate modeler's grid (CMG). These products are produced from daily and 8-day 500-meter snow products in an integerized sinusoidal grid and are mapped into the corresponding cells of a 0.05 degree CMG, yielding a global array of snow cover.

Data are available in HDF-EOS format and can be ordered through the EOS Data Gateway. For more information about ordering data, please visit NSIDC's MODIS Web page.

Sea Ice Data Updates

NSIDC received updates to two sea ice products. Bootstrap Sea Ice Concentrations from Nimbus-7 SMMR and DMSP SSM/I were updated in March 2002 to include coverage through September 30, 2001. To access data and documentation, see NSIDC's data catalog.

The NASA Goddard Space Flight Center sea ice concentration data set, Sea Ice Concentrations from Nimbus-7 SMMR and DMSP SSM/I Passive Microwave Data, was updated in April 2002 to include coverage through December 31, 2000. Data and documentation can be accessed via NSIDC's data catalog.

A new land mask, developed for use with the "Snow Melt Onset Over Arctic Sea Ice from SMMR and SSM/I Brightness Temperatures" data set, is also now available. In this land mask, ocean pixels adjacent to land, or one pixel removed from land, are designated as "land contaminated" rather than "open water" or "land." Thus, the land mask extends the land area to mask out land-contaminated areas. For the ftp address or additional information, please contact NSIDC User Services.

Revised Snow Algorithm for NISE

On March 20, 2002, NSIDC revised the snow algorithm for the "Near Real-Time SSM/I EASE-Grid Daily Global Ice Concentration and Snow Extent" (NISE) product. The revised algorithm provides corrected wet and dry snow extent, particularly over such regions as the high-elevation deserts of Central Asia. To access data and documentation, please visit NISE.

RAMP Version 2 Data

An improved version of the 1997 Radarsat Antarctic Mapping Project (RAMP) image mosaic of Antarctica is available through NSIDC and the Alaska SAR Facility (ASF).

The RAMP Antarctic Mapping Mission (AMM) 1 mosaic is a SAR data set covering the entire continent, including roughly 150 kilometers of the surrounding sea ice, acquired in a brief interval in September/October, 1997. The data offer a detailed look at the entire ice sheet and its submerged landscape, useful for change detection, mapping, and field planning.

The data were processed into a variety of formats and resolutions. Ordering information is available through NSIDC's data catalog and the ASF.

Reminder to Antarctic Investigators

Antarctic Investigators are reminded of the National Science Foundation's "Guidelines and Award Conditions for Office of Polar Programs Scientific Data." The OPP data policy states that principal investigators are required to submit a description of their data (i.e. metadata) resulting from OPP-funded research to appropriate electronic data directories in the form of a Directory Interchange Format (DIF). For Antarctic projects, DIF submission should be made to the Antarctic Master Directory (AMD).

Creating a DIF in the AMD for the data you have collected is a simple process and will bring enhanced visibility and recognition of your own work, while helping to create a scientific resource for future planning and research.

Former Soviet Union Surveys Data Updated

NSIDC is happy to announce that an update to the Former Soviet Union Hydrological Snow Surveys data set is now available via ftp. The data set has been updated for 90 stations for 1991-1996. To make these updates consistent with the original product, no changes to data processing have been made.

For a complete list of stations receiving an update and to download the data, please consult NSIDC's data catalog.

Error Notice

In "Historical Soviet Daily Snow Depth Version 2 (HSDSD)," NSIDC recently discovered errors in monthly mean and standard deviation snow depth climatologies for 1966-1996. Mean snow depth values were computed using erroneous data.

NSIDC computed corrected mean snow depth climatology. The statistics in the reprocessed files were calculated with non-zero snow depth values; therefore, they represent mean snow depth only when snow was present. Access data documentation and corrected climatologies via NSIDC's data catalog.


Antarctic Ice Shelf Collapse Receives Broad Press Coverage

On March 18, 2002, NSIDC and the University of Colorado, in conjunction with the British Antarctic Survey and the University of Innsbruck, issued a press release announcing the disintegration of the Larsen B Ice Shelf. Between January 31 and March 7, 2002, approximately 3,250 square kilometers of the ice shelf shattered, sending a barrage of icebergs into the Weddell Sea.

NSIDC scientist Ted Scambos and his colleagues Christina Hulbe, Portland State University, and Mark Fahnestock, University of New Hampshire, monitored the breakup using satellite imagery from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument aboard NASA's Terra satellite. Articles covering the breakup event appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The London Daily Telegraph, and on the Reuters and Associated Press news services, where the news was picked up by regional newspapers around the world. Scambos gave several interviews and appeared on ABC's Nightline and CNN's Moneyline.

For the NSIDC news release, see Antarctic Ice Shelf Collapses.

NSIDC Director Receives AAG Award

In March 2002, the Mountain Geography Specialty Group of the Association of American Geographers (AAG) honored NSIDC Director Roger Barry with a Lifetime Achievement Award for 2002, the International Year of the Mountain.

Barry was the third recipient of the award and the only individual to be so honored during the 2002 meeting of the AAG, recently held in Los Angeles, California. Barry's work on the book Mountain Weather and Climate, his mentoring of dozens of students, and his participation in international organizations and on editorial boards were the primary bases for his receiving the award.


WCRP Cryosphere and Climate (CliC)

The World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) Joint Scientific Committee (JSC) established a new project on Climate and Cryosphere (CliC) in March 2000. The primary goal of the project is to assess and quantify the impacts of climatic variability and change on components of the cryosphere and to determine the stability of the global cryosphere.

The schedule for implementation includes a proposed Science and Commitments Conference in Geneva in 2003 and a final ACSYS Science Conference in 2004. China has established a national committee for CliC, and discussions with agency representatives are underway to establish a similar committee for the U.S. The project is expected to run for at least 15 years, and an Implementation Plan is now available for review. Input and comments on the plan are now solicited from the wider science community via the CliC Web site.


Cryospheric Sciences at the European Geophysical Society (EGS)

The EGS council has agreed that, beginning in 2003, glaciology will have its own section called Cryospheric Sciences (acronym CR). Glaciology will, therefore, have a stronger and more distinct profile at the meeting, will be better coordinated and structured, and will attract more glaciology- related sessions and talks.

The American Geophysical Union (AGU) and the European Union of Geosciences (EUG) will hold a joint meeting April 7-11, 2003, in Nice, France. The glaciological/cryospheric community is encouraged to make the most of this new attention given to the topic of glaciology by the EGS. There are four subsections: snow, glaciers and ice sheets, sea ice, and permafrost. Please note that some sessions are co-sponsored by other sections, such as oceanography and hydrology, and will also appear in those programmes. For more information, please visit the EGS-AGU-EUG Joint Assembly.