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By NRL Corporate Communications
Gardner’s goal that day was to collect on-the-ground data to compare to the satellite's data to gauge the accuracy of the satellite’s measurements. To determine the thickness of the ice, her team drilled holes in it. To measure snow thickness, they used a magnaprobe, essentially a ski pole with a sensor and GPS functionality.
“You have to make these measurements while the satellite passes overhead,” she explained. “It seems like simple work, but it’s a harsh environment that presents many challenges. We’re just one of many groups that do this kind of work. NASA pays people to do this.”
That year Gardner’s team was just one among the multitudes of scientists and research teams trekking to the top of the world to take measurements, deploy buoys, launch weather balloons and engage in a variety of other data-collecting efforts. Their work would inform our understanding of the Arctic, sea ice, the ocean and the Earth itself.
For the Navy and its partners, that data would be essential for ensuring safety of navigation for vessels and improved environmental forecast modeling. In particular, the Arctic is important in extended sub-seasonal to seasonal forecasts such as those produced by the Earth System Prediction Capability (ESPC), NRL’s cutting edge Earth systems model that is scheduled to reach final operating capability in fiscal year 2022.