Successful launch of a new ice satellite - CRYOSAT 2

The European CryoSat 2 satellite was successfully launched on April 8th at 15:57 European time from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Professor Stein Sandven, director at the Nansen Center, is a member of the ESA CryoSat science team that has contributed to the development of the satellite. He regards the successful launch of the satellite as “a significant step towards obtaining important and highly needed measurements of sea ice thickness, which will contribute to increase our knowledge about the processes influencing climate changes in the Arctic”.

CryoSat is an experimental satellite that will deliver new and detailed height measurements of ice surfaces, both on land and in the ocean. Analysis of CryoSat data for accurate determination of the ice thickness will require further research efforts including field observations from ships, airplane and helicopters. Scientist at the Nansen Center will contribute to the validation of the CryoSat data and use them together with numerical models for studies and forecasting of the sea ice in the Arctic.

The Nansen Center has also a research group studying the Greenland ice sheet, lead by Prof. Ola M. Johannessen, who commented the launch; “The accurate radar altimeter on board CryoSat will also provide detailed information about glaciers and in this respect improve our knowledge of the melting or accumulation of the Greenland ice sheet”.

Earth observation satellites have during the last 30 years provided information about the extent of sea ice in the Arctic – one of the most visual manifestations of climate change effects. The Nansen Center processes daily satellite data and provide information about the Arctic sea ice cover for public use on http://arctic-roos.org. “CryoSat will provide completely new information about the spatial and temporal variation of ice thickness in the Arctic, which together with other information, it will be used to estimate the volume and fluxes of sea ice in the Arctic”, says Sandven, member of the science advisory group for CryoSat.

During the next months CryoSat will be in a testing phase before it starts to provide regular data from fall 2010. When the satellite is commissioned it will provide continuous measurements of land and sea ice for at least the next five years.

Further information, please contact:
Director Stein Sandven, mobile +47 99368440

and ESAs web page:

http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEMH5ZZNK7G_index_0.html