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NSIDC NOTES  -  Issue No. 47, Spring 2004


In this Issue:


Products & Services

Merged ESMR-SMMR-SSM/I Sea Ice Extent

The most complete time series of sea ice extent from passive microwave sensors is now available. The Nimbus-5 Electrically Scanning Microwave Radiometer (ESMR), Nimbus-7 Scanning Multichannel Microwave Radiometer (SMMR), and DMSP Special Sensor Microwave/Imager (SSM/I) provide passive microwave measurements of sea ice from 1972 through present. The merged ESMR-SMMR-SSM/I product provides daily and monthly sea ice extent summaries from January 1972 through December 2002 for the Northern Hemisphere and January 1973 through December 2002 for the Southern Hemisphere. The SMMR and SSM/I sea ice concentrations were derived using the NASA Team algorithm. For documentation and access to data, please visit the web site.

Reprocessed ESMR Data

NSIDC recently reprocessed Nimbus-5 Electrically Scanning Microwave Radiometer (ESMR) sea ice concentration data from January 1973 to December 1976, to include ocean masks that reduce weather effects and coastal contamination, and to include a 15 percent ice threshold. Data were also regridded to a polar stereographic projection, consistent with NSIDC's standard SMMR and SSM/I sea ice products. The full data set includes raw and reprocessed daily and monthly averaged sea ice concentrations for the Arctic and Antarctic at 25 km gridded resolution. Documentation and access to data are available online.

Historical Arctic and Antarctic Surface Observational Data

This product consists of meteorological data from 105 Arctic weather stations and 137 Antarctic stations, extracted from the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC)'s Integrated Surface Hourly (ISH) database. Variables include wind direction, wind speed, visibility, air temperature, dew point temperature, and sea level pressure. The earliest record is from 1913 and the latest is in 2002. Data originate from various sources such as synoptic, airways, Meteorological Routine Weather Report (METAR), Supplementary Marine Reporting Station (SMARS), and observations from automated weather stations. Data are in text format with accompanying graphs of meteorological variables.


MODIS/Aqua Products Available

Eight new sea ice and snow products from MODIS/Aqua are available for distribution. An improved algorithm uses MODIS band 7 instead of band 6 to distinguish sea ice and snow from clouds. The use of band 7 in Version 4 Aqua products removes striping problems previously evident from defective band 6 detectors. This and other algorithm refinements result in improved quality in sea ice and snow extent maps. Please visit the MODIS web site for more information.


New AMSR-Related Products and Services


Level-2B and Level-3 daily data from the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer-Earth Observing System (AMSR-E) became available to the public on 1 March 2004.

Forward processing began on this date, and will be followed one to two months later by reprocessing of data from June 2002 onward. Products include global soil moisture, rainfall, ocean variables, sea ice, snow cover, gridded brightness temperatures, and snow water equivalent data. Ten daily near real-time products are available via FTP upon registration. Standard AMSR-E products are available from NSIDC via the Data Pool and the EOS Data Gateway.

Several more data sets have been added to the public data archive for the Soil Moisture Experiment 2002 (SMEX02). Most of these new data come from remote sensing sources, including Landsat Thematic Mapper, Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER), and the Special Sensor Microwave/Imager (SSM/I).

SMEX02 is part of the validation project for the AMSR-E instrument, and provides data for hydrologic and land-atmosphere interaction research.

Find information and data at the NSIDC AMSR-E Validation Portal.


The new AMSR-E data tool developed at NSIDC and introduced at the AGU meeting in December 2003 is now available. The NSIDC Swath-to-Grid Toolkit is a suite of software tools distributed with NSIDC's Passive Microwave Swath Data Tools (PMSDT) to subset and grid Levels-1B and 2A AMSR-E swath data. AS2GT makes it possible to quickly and easily work with the AMSR-E data in ways that may not be available with the standard gridded data sets. This toolkit allows users to process data into custom grids with whatever temporal or spatial resolution is required. AS2GT maintains the highest data quality for users' applications by providing control over map projection, number of samples per day, input resolution and interpolation method. To obtain additional information and to download the toolkit, please visit the product web site.


New ICESat/GLAS Data Available

In late March 2004, NSIDC received improved Geoscience Laser Altimeter System (GLAS) data products from the Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat). New data from GLAS laser number two yield improved processing software and laser-pointing accuracy for the altimetry products, and improved calibration for the Level-1A atmospheric product. IDL-based visualization software will be available soon to assist users in reading and displaying ICESat/GLAS data at the product web site.



Cryospheric News

Researchers Publish Vegetation Map of the Arctic Tundra Biome

Institute of Arctic Biology (IAB) researcher Donald (Skip) Walker and an international team of Arctic vegetation scientists have published the Circumpolar Arctic Vegetation Map (CAVM) – the first map of an entire global biome at such a level of detail.

The 11-year CAVM project, directed by Walker, who also heads IAB's Alaska Geobotany Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, involved vegetation scientists representing the six countries of the Arctic – Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, and the United States – to map the vegetation and associated characteristics of the circumpolar region, using a common base map.

“A vegetation map of the Arctic is especially needed now because the Arctic is increasingly recognized as a single geoecosystem with a common set of cultural, political, economic, and ecological issues. Accelerated land-use change and climate change in the Arctic made the effort more urgent,” Walker said.

The base map is a false-color infrared image created from Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) satellite data. The map covers the Arctic bioclimate subzone – the region north of the Arctic tree line – with an arctic climate, arctic flora, and tundra vegetation. The map can be viewed online.

The front of the map shows the circumpolar Arctic color coded according to the outward appearance of the vegetation with color photographs of the various units. The back of the map includes detailed vegetative descriptions, a brief history of the map's origin, and maps of the bioclimate subzones, floristic provinces, landscapes, percent lake cover, substrate pH, and plant biomass.

The CAVM is the first to cover the entire Arctic at a reasonable level of detail using a common legend approach. In fact, it is the first map of an entire global biome at such a level of detail.

The CAVM project was funded by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. More information on the CAVM project is available at the project web site.



Conference News

Chinese Academy of Meteorological Science (CAMS) Meeting

The annual CAMS meeting was held in Beijing, China, 12-14 January 2004. NSIDC's Tingjun Zhang gave an invited talk entitled “Cold Land Processes on the Tibetan Plateau: Progress and Problems.” Zhang gave a comprehensive overview on the status of snow cover and near-surface soil freeze/thaw cycle studies on the Tibetan Plateau from in situ measurements, satellite remote sensing, and numerical modeling. He also proposed a long-term field measurement program to monitor changes in snow cover and frozen soils on the Tibetan Plateau. After the CAMS Annual Meeting, Zhang visited the Institute of the Tibetan Plateau, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), the Society of Tibetan Plateau Research, and the China Meteorological Administration (CMA), to plan the upcoming Fourth International Symposium of Tibetan Plateau to be held in Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region of China, 4-6 August 2004. NSIDC will be one of the Symposium co-sponsors.


Arctic Perspectives on the Climate Change Debate

On 23 January 2004, Dr. Mark Serreze, Research Scientist at NSIDC/CIRES, presented a Cryospheric and Polar Processes Division Seminar.
The seminar examined the role of human impacts and natural variability affecting climate, ice cover, vegetation, and oceanic and atmospheric circulation patterns in the Arctic region. For more information on the topic, please see visit NSIDC's event page.


Central Arctic Climate Meeting

NSIDC Director Roger Barry and Dr. George Kukla of Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO), New York, organized and convened a meeting 7-9 January on “Central Arctic: Battleground of Natural and Man-Made Climate Forcings.” The meeting, which was held at and supported by LDEO, was attended by 25 scientists, including one each from Poland and Russia. Papers were presented on present and past Arctic climate and sea ice from observational and modeling studies. A meeting report is being prepared for submission to EOS, Transactions of the American Geophysical Union.


Establishment of Climate and Cryosphere Committee Under Consideration

NSIDC Director Roger Barry organized and chaired an ad-hoc meeting to discuss the possible establishment of a US Climate and Cryosphere (CliC) committee in Washington, DC, 5-6 January 2004. Twelve scientists from universities and government labs attended the meeting, representing various components of cryospheric research activities. Agency representatives included John Calder (NOAA), Waleed Abdalati (NASA), and Jane Dione (NSF-Office of Polar Programs). A short report on the meeting and proposed next steps is in preparation.


Mass Storage Systems and Technologies

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center will hold its 12th Conference on Mass Storage Systems and Technologies, 13-16 April 2004. NSIDC's Ruth Duerr will present a talk on “Challenges in Long-Term Data Stewardship.” More information is available at the conference web site.




NSIDC Director Named Distinguished Professor

Roger G. Barry Roger Barry, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center for the past 27 years, was named Distinguished Professor by the University of Colorado Board of Regents. The designation of distinguished professor is bestowed on members of the university faculty "who have distinguished themselves as exemplary teachers, scholars and public servants and who are individuals having extraordinary international importance and recognition." President Elizabeth Hoffman and Chancellor Richard Byyny praised Barry's work, recognizing his research in the climates of arctic and alpine environments as well as his contributions to NSIDC.

Barry is recognized internationally as one of the top geographers and polar climatologists. His research in cryospheric science and climate has provided leadership for NSIDC/WDCG since 1982. He has pioneered research in weather pattern analysis, global climate modeling, ice-age climates and more recently on the impacts of, and changes in, mountain climates and arctic environments. His work is considered fundamental to much of the recent debate over the impact and mechanisms of global climate change.

He has published 18 books, 210 journal articles and book chapters, and has one of the highest paper citation index scores worldwide in the fields of climatology and physical geography. Barry has supervised 32 doctoral dissertations and 23 master's theses by CU-Boulder students, many of whom have become leaders in environmental sciences.

Fluent in French, Russian and German, Barry has been a visiting professor at nine prestigious universities overseas. His contributions to climatology were recognized through a 1982 Guggenheim Fellowship award and lifetime achievement awards by the Association of American Geographers for Climate in 2001 and for Mountain Geography in 2002.

In 1999 he was elected a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, which is awarded to fewer than 0.1 percent of the 41,000 members worldwide. Other major awards include being elected a foreign member of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences in 2001 and his appointment as a Fulbright Teaching Scholar in Moscow in 2001.

Barry received a bachelor's degree with honors from the University of Liverpool in England in 1957, a master's degree from McGill University in Montreal in 1959 and a doctorate from the University of Southampton in England in 1965.

Barry's numerous students will convene for a conference in honor of his work at CIRES, NSIDC's parent organization, 8-10 August 2004.


Antarctic Master Directory Holdings on the Rise

The Antarctic Master Directory (AMD), the Web-based, searchable directory containing data set descriptions created by scientists in more than twenty nations, continues to grow in content and usage. Data set descriptions in the AMD include information about which data were collected, where they were collected, when they were collected, who the scientists are, who the point of contact is, how to get the data, information about the format of the data, and what documentation and bibliographic information exists. The AMD is a part of the International Directory Network/Global Change Master Directory (IDN/GCMD). During 2003, the number of data set descriptions contributed by U.S. scientists grew by more than 30 percent, with more than 3,000 data set descriptions now in the AMD.
With NSF Office of Polar Programs (OPP) funding, NSIDC operates the U.S. Antarctic Data Coordination Center (USADCC), partly to assist scientists in using and contributing to the AMD.


NSIDC Hosts Visiting Scientist

Dr. Igor Zotikov from the Institute of Geography, Moscow, and an Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, is a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at NSIDC, 21 January to late August 2004. He is preparing a book on Lake Vostok, Antarctica. Zotikov was at Vostok station in 1959 and 1963 and began thermal drilling at Vostok in 1959. In 1961 he demonstrated theoretically the necessity for bottom melt beneath the East Antarctic Ice Sheet. He also obtained a core from Ross Ice Shelf in 1977. Zotikov also served on North Pole Drifting station 19 (on a fragment of the Ellesmere Ice Shelf), and has studied glaciers in the Eurasian Arctic islands and in central Asia.



NSIDC Director Roger Barry is on sabbatical leave during spring 2004 and will be working at the Laboratoire de Glaciologie et Geophysique de l’Environnement (LGGE), CNRS, Grenoble, France from 1 April - 30 June.