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Thursday, November 14, 2013

New Ice Monitoring Technique Offers Insight into Great Lakes/Update/Part 2

(We ran this blog last week but want to give this update).

As promised, we interviewed one of the major scientists, Son Nghiem on our radio show today.  We only had time for a 30 minute segment.  Next week we'll finish the discussion with Son and George Leshkevich has promised to join him as well.

Listen live over-the-air and on the stream ( on WARL 1320.  Then, usually within 7 days, each show post and archives 24/7 on our main

Here's Dr. Nghiem's bio which recaps some of the great work he's done.  Today we touched on how the satellites, and their amazing advance technology, is pushing new frontiers of sustainability.  We'll finish that, and talk about much more, next week.

Dr. Son V. Nghiem received the Ph.D. degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  In 1991, he joined the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), California Institute of Technology, where he is currently a Senior Research Scientist, the Science Applications Development Lead of the Radar Science and Engineering Section, and the JPL Hydrology Discipline Program Manager of the Hydrology Office in the Earth Science and Technology Directorate.  His research encompasses active and passive remote sensing, development of advanced satellite radars and radiometers, electromagnetic scattering and emission modeling, and earth sciences and applications from the tropics to polar regions. He holds a patent for his invention on high-resolution wind measurements with satellite data for offshore wind energy development. 

He has published over 80 peer-reviewed articles and 250 conference articles.  He received the 1999 Lew Allen Award for Excellence in recognition of his pioneering research in the areas of polarimetric scatterometry for Earth science remote sensing and contributions to future advanced satellite instrument concepts, the 2006 NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal for developing scientific applications of scatterometry in land, ice, and snow processes, the 2008 NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal for his contributions to understanding the melt state of Greenland and Antarctica ice sheets, its significance in Earth science missions, and its implications in climate change, the 2010 NASA Exceptional Technology Achievement Medal for his contributions in developing a new technology using NASA satellite scatterometer data to measure high-resolution global wind for off-shore wind energy development, and the2013 Edward Stones Award for outstanding research publication on the extreme melt across the Greenland ice sheet in 2012.  He was invited to present science results on Arctic change and impacts to the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House in 2012.  His research results have been reported worldwide by major news networks.

With winter weather fast approaching, we start to look at how the big chill will affects our economy. And for the Great Lakes, frozen ice is bound to affect shipping lanes and local fishing industries. Connected to the Atlantic Ocean by way of the Great Lakes Waterway, each year, millions of tons of cargo are moved onto the lakes, supplying the US and Canada with important commodities.

In addition to economic impacts, the lakes have a significant effect on the regional environment and ecological systems so the importance of analyzing and observing these frozen waters is crucial for the region.
Fortunately, two scientists from NASA and NOAA have developed a new space-based technique for monitoring the ice cover of the Great Lakes.
"In the dark, it's difficult to read a map that's right in front of you," said Son Nghiem of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, one of the developers of the new technique. "Yet we now have a way to use satellite radars almost 500 miles [800 kilometers] out in space to see through clouds and darkness and map ice across the Great Lakes."
The new method, co-developed by Nghiem and his colleague George Leshkevich of NOAA's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, Ann Arbor, Michigan, gives a more accurate analysis of ice characteristics, such as whether the ice is dense or full of bubbles, whether it has melted and refrozen, and whether there is snow on top of the lake ice.
The method uses a special dictionary that translates binary digital data from satellite radar instruments on the Canadian Space Agency's RADARSAT-1/2, the European Space Agency's European Remote Sensing Satellite 2 (ERS-2), and Envisat to identify and map different types of ice over the Great Lakes. The researchers compiled the dictionary by pairing each observed ice type to a library of unique radar signatures that were measured on the lakes using a JPL-developed advanced radar aboard a U.S. Coast Guard icebreaking ship.
Leshkevich said, "These maps will provide important information for environmental management, ice forecasting and modeling, off-shore wind farm development, operational icebreaking activities in support of winter navigation, and science research."
This ice classification will also provide insight as to how the Great Lakes are responding to, and leading, climate change in the upper Midwest.
Results of the study were published recently in the Journal of Great Lakes Research.

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