Minimize Leap in CryoSat data quality - Images

sea ice map
A snapshot of ocean dynamic topography from CryoSat. Radar data from CryoSat can be used to understand more about how circulation in the Arctic Ocean may change as the ice retreats. Thanks to the satellite reaching latitudes of 88°, gaps can now be filled in maps of 'ocean dynamic topography', which is the height of the water relative to the geoid.


cryosat satellite in orbit

ESA’s Earth Explorer CryoSat mission is dedicated to precise monitoring of changes in the thickness of marine ice floating in the polar oceans and variations in the thickness of the vast ice sheets that blanket Greenland and Antarctica.

Credits: ESA/AOES Medialab

antarctic ice sheet

CryoSat is able to measure the freeboard (the height protruding above the water) of floating sea ice with its sensitive altimeter. From the freeboard, the ice thickness can be estimated.

Credits: ESA/AOES Medialab

ice sheet thickness

For the first time, data from ESA’s CryoSat mission have been used to map the height of the ice sheet that blankets Antarctica. The preliminary data used here are from February and March 2011. More data still need to be collected to study the ice sheet in detail. Nevertheless, CryoSat's ability to map the edges of the ice sheet is demonstrated by the detail that can be seen of the flow from east Antarctica onto the Ronne-Filchner ice shelf in the west. Orbiting closer to the poles than other Earth observation missions, CryoSat offers additional coverage. The outer white circle represents the limits of earlier missions and the inner circle shows that CryoSat is collecting data up 88° latitude.

Credits: CPOM/UCL/ESA/Planetary Visions