What is CryoSat?
Europe's first ice mission is an advanced radar altimeter specifically designed to monitor the most dynamic sections of Earth's cryosphere. It borrows synthetic aperture radar and interferometry techniques from standard imaging radar missions to sharpen its accuracy over rugged ice sheet margins and sea ice in polar waters. CryoSat-2 measures 'freeboard' - the difference in height between sea ice and adjacent water - as well as ice sheet altitude, tracking changes in ice thickness.
Latest Mission Operations News
CryoSat users are informed that an updated version of the CryoSat Product Quality Status Document is now available.
Latest Mission Results News
05 July 2017
All eyes are on Antarctica's Larsen C ice shelf as a deep crack continues to cut across the ice, leaving a huge chunk clinging on.
24 March 2017
Around 250 million measurements taken by ESA's CryoSat over the last six years have been used to create a unique 3D view of Antarctica, offering a snapshot of the undulating surface of this vast ice sheet.
20 March 2017
After the relative quiet of the long dark winter months, the Arctic will be a tad busier over the coming weeks as numerous researchers descend on this harsh, yet fragile environment. Their aim is not to disturb its beauty, but to join forces in an all-out effort to measure ice on land and sea.
08 February 2017
A novel way of using ESA's CryoSat mission has revealed how lakes beneath Thwaites Glacier drained into the Amundsen Sea - potentially the largest such outflow ever reported in this region of West Antarctica.
16 December 2016
Although not designed to deliver information on ice, ESA's Earth Explorer SMOS satellite can detect thin sea-ice. Since its cousin, CryoSat, is better at measuring thicker ice scientists have found a way of using these missions together to yield an even clearer picture of the changing Arctic.
12 December 2016
Five satellites spanning two decades have revealed variations in the timing and pace of glacial retreat in West Antarctica. Some glaciers' thinning spreads up to three times faster than on neighbouring tributaries, and was offset by decades.
30 November 2016
ESA's CryoSat satellite has found that the Arctic has one of the lowest volumes of sea ice of any November, matching record lows in 2011 and 2012. Early winter growth of ice in the Arctic has been about 10% lower than usual.
16 November 2016
With a helicopter the sole feature on the vast expanse of ice and her only way back to warmth and safety, polar scientist Anna Hogg must have thought, "What on Earth am I doing out here?" as she set to taking ice samples.
28 October 2016
ESA's CryoSat was launched in 2010 to understand how the thickness of Earth's ice is changing, but this sophisticated mission has gone over and above its original remit in a number of ways. Pushing the mission even further, the latest efforts focus on patterns in the ocean.
Almost 80% of the Earth's fresh water is locked up in the cryosphere, i.e. snow, ice and permafrost. The cryosphere plays an important role in moderating the global climate and as such, the consequences of receding ice cover due to global warming are far reaching and complex. Due to its high albedo, ice masses directly affect the global energy budget by reflecting about 80% of incident sunlight back out to space.
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