In this Issue:



Issue No. 46, Winter 2003



AMSR-E Level-2A Brightness Temperatures Available

NSIDC archives and distributes all Level-1A, -2, and -3 products from the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer - Earth Observing System (AMSR-E) sensor on NASA's Aqua satellite. Level-2B and Level-3 data will be available in March 2004. This collection of images was created from the "AMSR-E L2A Global Swath Spatially-Resampled Brightness Temperatures (Tb)" data set. This product was released to the public in September 2003.

AMSR-E improves upon past microwave radiometers, by providing a spatial resolution double that of the Scanning Multichannel Microwave Radiometer (SMMR) and Special Sensor Microwave/Imager (SSM/I) data. AMSR-E combines into one sensor all the channels that SMMR and SSM/I had individually.

Each AMSR-E Level-2A brightness temperature file covers 1/2 orbit, as shown below in a Transverse Mercator projection. The images are displayed at the highest resolution available for each channel, and illustrate how microwave emission from the Earth varies with frequency and polarization. To access data and documentation for "AMSR-E L2A Global Swath Spatially-Resampled Brightness Temperatures (Tb)," please visit the product web site.

AMSR-E Spatially-resmapled Brightness Temperatures


Arctic Sea Ice Low, Second Year in a Row

Last year’s sea ice extent and concentration set a new record low in the Arctic. 2003 was a close second, according to remote sensing data from September, when sea ice in the northern latitudes is typically at its lowest, after the summer melt season

The near-record low in 2003, accompanied by sea ice trends showing a steady decline over the last decade, is significant to scientists researching global warming. Not only is sea ice an indicator of possible climate change, but the loss of sea ice itself may further compound the problem. Because ice reflects the sun’s energy, less ice means that more of the sun’s energy is absorbed, rather than reflected, causing temperatures to rise even further. While sea ice floats, and therefore does not directly contribute to sea-level rise, increasing temperatures around the Arctic may cause areas of the Greenland ice sheet to melt, which could contribute to a rise in sea level. For further information on sea ice, please visit Arctic Sea Ice News & Analysis.

sea ice
This aerial image from 20 July 2003 of sea ice in the Arctic shows scant ice cover and extensive meltponds on the ice surface. The image was composed from a mosaic of five digital images of the central Beaufort Sea acquired by the "Aerosonde" unpiloted aerial vehicle (UAV) near 73.56 degrees N., 148.98 degrees W, at an altitude of 200m. Courtesy Jim Maslanik.


New ICESat Data Available

Preliminary data from the Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) are now available. NSIDC distributes Level-1 and -2 laser altimetry and atmospheric lidar products from the Geoscience Laser Altimeter System (GLAS) instrument aboard ICESat, launched in January 2003. ICESat provides global measurements of polar ice sheet elevation to discern changes in ice volume (mass balance) over time. Secondary objectives include measuring sea ice roughness and thickness, cloud and atmospheric properties, land topography, vegetation canopy heights, ocean surface topography, and surface reflectivity. Please visit the product web site for more information or to place an order.


Cold Land Processes Experiment 2002 Data Now Available

2002 field data from the NASA Cold Land Processes Experiment (CLPX) are now available to the public. These data sets focus on snow characteristics, including snow depth, density, temperature, and stratigraphy. CLPX is a multi-sensor, multi-scale experiment that concentrates on extending a local-scale understanding of water fluxes, storage, and transformations to regional and global scales. Intensive ground, airborne, and spaceborne observations relating to ice and snow were collected in a series of nested study areas in the central Rocky Mountains of the western United States, ranging in size from 1km2 to 160,000 km2. Data collection focused on two seasons: mid-winter, when conditions are generally frozen and dry, and early spring, a transitional period when frozen, thawed, wet, and dry conditions can be present. CLPX will eventually provide over 35 data sets, several of which have been delivered to NSIDC. Data are restricted to CLPX investigators for the first year, and all CLPX data will be available to the public by October 2004. For more information, please see the CLPX web site.


Sea Ice Data Update

NSIDC has received an update to the "Sea Ice Concentrations from Nimbus-7 SMMR and DMSP SSM/I Passive Microwave Data." This product now contains five CD-ROM volumes, with the update covering January 2001 through December 2002. Sea ice concentrations are derived from the NASA Team algorithm. Registered users will receive volume 5 automatically. For more information, or to place an order, please visit the product web site.


The Antarctic Glaciological Data Center

An extensive collection of many Antarctic glaciological data is available for the polar science community upon request. Funded by the National Science Foundation's Office of Polar Programs, the Antarctic Glaciological Data Center (AGDC) at NSIDC archives and distributes Antarctic glaciological and cryospheric system data collected by the U.S. Antarctic Program. AGDC facilitates data exchange among Principal Investigators, preserves recently collected data useful to future research, gathers data sets from past research, and compiles continent-wide information useful for modeling and field work planning. Data sets are available through AGDC. From here, users can access data, extensive documentation, citation information, locator maps, and derived images and references. More than 50 Antarctic scientists have contributed data to the archive.

Find out how to submit your data to the AGDC if you are funded by NSF’s Office of Polar Programs.


Meteorological Data from the Russian Arctic Published

Through funding from the NOAA Environmental Services Data and Information Management program and the National Geophysical Data Center, previously unavailable meteorological observation data from 51 stations covering 1961 through 2000 are now online at NSIDC. The Russian station observations were provided by Vladimir Radionov, of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (AARI), St. Petersburg, and include monthly mean 2-meter air temperature, sea level pressure, total and low cloud amount, total precipitation, and relative humidity. These observations fill a gap in the historical record, and the precipitation observations are of special importance to a planned Arctic reanalysis project.


Soil Moisture Experiment Data Available

The first ten data sets and documentation for the Soil Moisture Experiment 2002 (SMEX02) are now publicly available. The data include soil moisture, temperature, vegetation, and meteorological measurements.

The soil moisture field experiments (SMEX) are planned through 2005 and address a broad range of science and instrument questions related to soil moisture remote sensing. The objectives of the experiments are to validate data from the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer - Earth Observing System (AMSR-E) instrument, provide data sets for studies of hydrologic processes and land-atmosphere interactions, and evaluate new instrument technologies.

Researchers are still submitting data for SMEX02, so look for more data sets in the coming months. For information about other AMSR-E validation experiments and data, please visit the product web site.


2003 NASA DAAC Alliance Annual Released

The 9th edition of the NASA DAAC Alliance Annual publication, Distributed Active Archive Centers Alliance: Supporting Earth Observing Science 2003, is now available from the NSIDC DAAC. The DAAC Alliance Annual is a multidisciplinary publication that highlights applications and research uses of data from NASA's Earth Observing System satellites.

The 2003 edition of the Annual highlights research on oceanography, meteorology, seismology, land processes, cryospheric processes, and human influences on native habitats. For the first time, the 2003 edition also includes a special center section featuring full-color data images designed to enhance the readers' understanding of the feature articles.

DAAC Alliance Annual editor Laurie Schmidt will present a poster session on the 2003 Annual in a session at the AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco. The session, “The Benefits and Challenges of Education and Public Outreach Efforts Associated With Scientific Research Programs,” will be held at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, 12 December, in MCC Level 2.

Articles from the DAAC Alliance Annual are also available electronically on the DAAC Alliance web site and on NASA's Earth Observatory.

Researchers working with data archived at the NASA DAACs are invited to contact Laurie Schmidt to explore possibilities for developing a future DAAC article. For a free copy of the DAAC Alliance Annual, contact NSIDC User Services.


New Bibliography Released

A new version of the Permafrost and Frozen Ground Bibliography, collected for the Circumpolar Active-Layer Permafrost System Version 2.0 (CAPS 2) CD-ROM released by the Frozen Ground Data Center in July, is now available. The bibliography contains over 14,000 citations for materials dating from 1741 to early 2003. Citation search terms include Permafrost, Frozen Ground, Periglacial, Freeze & Thaw, Cold Regions Engineering, Frozen Soils, Frost Heave, Solifluction, Geocryology, Thermokarst, Ground Temperature, and Tundra. The holdings of NSIDC/WDC for Glaciology, Boulder, were used as the starting point for the information gathered, and references from a variety of geoscience, engineering, and cold region library databases were added. International monographs, journal articles, conference proceedings, dissertations, newspaper articles, and grey literature (e.g., reports, non-commercial translations, bibliographies, and government reports not published commercially) are included. The bibliography is available on the CAPS 2 CD-ROM set, and online.


Glaciological Report

Glaciological Data Report GD-32 will cover details of two important gatherings held in Boulder, Colorado: the SnowWatch 2002 meeting and the Glacier Recession Workshop. These events brought together cryospheric scientists and decision makers from all over the world to present their research and findings.

SnowWatch 2002 was held during 31 October to 1 November 2002. SnowWatch members belong to three different working groups, which made recommendations about the future of snow surface stations, climate monitoring, and statistical evaluation, among other issues.
The Glacier Recession Workshop was a three-day workshop held in March 2003 to evaluate current methods of determining the worldwide recession of mountain glaciers. Workshop members formulated a list of recommended actions for future glaciological research. This report will be available by the end of this year.


32nd International Geological Congress

Come to Florence, 20-28 August 2004, to present your work on Remote Sensing of Snow and Ice at a Special Symposium sponsored by the International Association for Mathematical Geology. The Special Symposium on Understanding Geology through Geomathematical Analysis of Remote Sensing Data is being convened by Ute C. Herzfeld, of NSIDC/CIRES, and Daniel F. Merriam, of Kansas Geological Survey, University of Kansas, Lawrence. For more information, visit the Congress web site.


U.S. Antarctic Researchers Metadata Reminder

The U.S. Antarctic Data Coordination Center (USADCC) at NSIDC is sending out reminders to all NSF-funded Antarctic researchers about their obligation to include a data description in the Antarctic Master Directory (AMD).

NSF-funded Antarctic investigators are required by NSF policy to submit a short data description to the AMD before the end of their grant. The AMD is an online searchable directory of Antarctic data descriptions submitted by researchers in more than twenty countries. The USADCC provides access to the AMD and easy-to-use tools to create data set descriptions.


NSIDC in the News

NSIDC’s Dr. Mark Serreze has recently been in the news, thanks to an article in the October issue of Scientific American and a recently televised NASA Earth Science Update. Both centered around climate changes in the Arctic and the role of global warming. For more information, see “Meltdown in the North” at Scientific American and NSIDC News.


New Products from Canadian Ice Service

The Canadian Ice Service has made a subset of products from its Ice Atlas for Northern Canadian Waters, 1971-2000, available online.

Median ice extent charts of Canadian waters can be displayed. Information describing the ice chart archive, as well as a handy reference to the terminology of ice climatology is also provided, with ice codes for sea ice, lake ice, and icebergs. Data from the recently restarted Arctic ice thickness measurement program are available, in addition to the Manual of Standard Procedures for Observing and Reporting Ice Conditions, "MANICE." Many products are available on CD-ROM in addition to online.

Contact: Client Services, Canadian Ice Service, Environment Canada, 373 Sussex Drive, Block E, Ottawa, Ontario K1A0H. Tel: 613-996-1550 or email: