Zoom In: Geolocating IceBridge Data


In 2009, NASA initiated Operation IceBridge, flying airborne missions to pinch hit for the ICESat satellites’ expected gap from 2009 to 2016. The airborne platform and the broad suite of instrumentation allow for the collection of high resolution snow and ice data from targeted areas of scientific interest. The downside is that the total area covered is not nearly as vast as what a satellite typically covers.

The resources listed below allow you to zoom in on the specific areas of the Earth where IceBridge data were collected. Many of these resources also provide a handy way to access the IceBridge data of your choice.

IceBridge Data Portal

IceBridge Data Portal

IceBridge Data Portal

* See flight lines plotted against imagery, DEM or ice velocity layers

* Zoom to your area of interest to find and download data from flights that intersect your target area

ATM Flight Lines in Google Earth

ATM Flight Lines in Google Earth

KML flight lines provided by the ATM instrument team

* Download simplified flight lines and view them in Google Earth or your favorite Earth browser

* Note: While these represent the majority of IceBridge flights, they will not include campaigns flown without the ATM instrument

Earthdata Search

The new Earthdata Search


NASA Reverb or the new Earthdata Search tool

* See the locations of flight segments associated with each data file on a map

* Search for and download just the data files that meet your criteria

* Note: Many but not all IceBridge data sets are available for visualization and download with these tools

IRMCR2 Data Table View

IRMCR2 Data Table View

Geolocation coordinates in the data files

* Those who have already selected and downloaded data files may start analyzing the individual measurements based on the Latitude and Longitude coordinates contained therein

* To the right is an example of a data table taken from the IceBridge MCoRDS L2 Ice Thickness data set


Examples of L0 IceBridge data sets in the NSIDC data search tool

Examples of L0 IceBridge data sets in the NSIDC data search tool

Instrument position data

* Some researchers may need instrument position information, which may include altitude, velocity, roll, and pitch in addition to coordinates

* Separate data sets with this information are available for the DMS Camera and the LVIS Instrument

* For some other instruments, this information is included within the Level 0 data set for the instrument. To easily browse the holdings of IceBridge data sets, see the NSIDC Data Search tool

Flight lines over Greenland

Flight lines over Greenland. Credit: NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio

Video tutorial on the NASA Operation IceBridge Data Portal

NASA's P-3 Orion research aircraft being prepared for a mission in Antarctica in 2013

NASA’s P-3 Orion research aircraft being prepared for a mission in Antarctica in 2013. Credit: Michael Studinger, NASA

Those of you interested in NASA Operation IceBridge data may benefit from taking a moment to sit back and watch this video recording of a webinar overviewing the IceBridge mission and how to use the data portal. Steve Tanner, manager of the IceBridge data archive at NSIDC, guides us through a brief introduction to the IceBridge airborne mission and takes us, step by step, through the process of searching for and downloading IceBridge data. The video is from a live webinar hosted by NASA EOSDIS.

NASA Operation IceBridge data is of particular interest to researchers looking for remote sensing measurements over the polar regions from 2009 to the present. This airborne mission is designed to work in conjunction with satellite missions such as ICESat-1, CryoSat, and the upcoming ICESat-2.

View the video tutorial by visiting the NASA EarthData webinar page and scrolling to the entry for the Operation IceBridge Portal webinar.

Find out more information about IceBridge data at the NSIDC IceBridge overview page.

Recent enhancements to the NASA IceBridge Data Portal

The NASA IceBridge Project is comprised of airborne data over the most dynamic areas of the Arctic, Greenland, Alaska and Antarctica. The data gathered by this project are unique in that they are spatially referenced by flight lines, flights are flown during approximately 3-month campaigns, and data are collected by a wide variety of instrumentation.

The NASA IceBridge Data Portal provides a single location from which one can get an overview of all the IceBridge data sets. It allows for map-based visualization of the flight paths via polar views of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.  Using a variety of filters and image overlays, one can visualize, search and download IceBridge data campaigns. NSIDC recently added some new capabilities to the IceBridge Data Portal. These new features include:

– A simpler display which allows users to hide and move informational windows

– The ability to filter results by selecting one or more instruments

– A tar-on-the-fly option for downloading complete directories of data at once

– New map layers for enhanced visualization including:

  • Mosaic of Greenland (MOG)
  • Shaded Relief DEM
  • MEaSUREs Velocity Map
  • Mosaic of Antarctica (MOA)
  • Antarctic Bedrock DEM
  • Radarsat Antarctic Mapping Project (RAMP)

Begin your search for IceBridge data through the newly improved NASA IceBridge Data Portal.