The major goal of the campaign CryoVex, was to look at how ESA’s CryoSat mission can be used to understand the thickness of sea ice in Antarctica. The scenes look like, explorers are landed with a spacecraft on the surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa, or some other icy alien world. Image © Stefan Hendricks, Alfred Wegner Institute
The extent of the sea ice here in winter is currently more than normal, which could be linked to changing atmospheric patterns.
This is in contrast to what we are seeing in the Arctic where there is a trend towards declining sea-ice extent in the summer. CryoSat is showing that ice continues to thin.
“Our voyage from Cape Town, South Africa, to our main working area in the Weddell Sea in Antarctica and back to Punta Arenas in Chile took nine weeks. We were in ice-covered areas from mid-June to early August, mid-winter in Antarctica – and dark for much of the time.
To achieve sea-ice thickness retrieval with CryoSat, we have to understand the complex remote-sensing signature of snow on Antarctic sea ice and what it means for the range measurements of the CryoSat’s SIRAL radar altimeter.
Therefore, swapping our northern hemisphere’s summer for winter in the southern hemisphere we sailed with Polarstern to Antarctica to study the properties of snow, its evolution in winter and to measure sea-ice freeboard and thickness for later validation of CryoSat data.”