Event Type
Webinars and Virtual Events

Presenters: Sinéad L. Farrell, University of Maryland

Event Dates
Online: 7:30-8:30am AKDT, 11:30am-12:30pm EDT


One of the most striking, and widely publicized, environmental changes underway in the Earth system is the disappearance of the Arctic sea ice cover. Since sea ice is a key component of the climate system, its ongoing loss has serious, and wide-ranging, socio-economic implications. Increasing year-to-year variability in the geographic location, concentration and thickness of Arctic ice will pose both challenges and opportunities. Advancing our understanding of how the sea ice cover varies, and why, is key to characterizing the physical processes governing change, and for advancing model predictions. An emerging need is short-time-critical sea ice data products to support safety and security for maritime operations in ice-infested waters. Altimeter instruments on satellite and aircraft platforms have revolutionized our understanding of Arctic sea ice mass balance over the last two decades. Satellite laser and radar altimeters on NASA's ICESat and ICESat-2 satellites, and ESA's CryoSat-2, provide unique measurements of sea ice elevation, from which ice thickness may be derived, across basin scales. Meanwhile altimeters deployed on aircraft such as the Operation IceBridge Mission, together with coincident digital imagery, provide a range of novel, high-resolution observations that describe key features of the ice cover including its snow cover, surface morphology and deformation characteristics, and summer melt features. We will explore the novel sea ice data products developed at the NOAA Laboratory for Satellite Altimetry that describe changes in the Arctic ice cover during the last two decades. We will also discuss efforts to advance access to polar ocean remote sensing observations and improve communication with Arctic stakeholders through the NOAA PolarWatch initiative, which is designed to deliver data products that best address societal needs (polarwatch.noaa.gov).


Sinéad Louise Farrell is an associate professor with the Department of Geographical Sciences at the University of Maryland, and a visiting scientist at the NOAA / NESDIS / STAR / SOCD Laboratory for Satellite Altimetry, College Park, Maryland. Dr. Farrell received her Ph.D. in Space and Climate Physics from University College London in 2007. Her primary fields of study are cryospheric sciences and remote sensing. She is a principal investigator on the NASA ICESat-2 Science Team and a member of the Mission Advisory Group for the EU Copernicus Polar Ice and Snow Topography Altimeter. Prior to joining the Department of Geographical Sciences, Dr. Farrell was with the Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center (ESSIC), at the University of Maryland.

Remote Access:

WebEx (for screen sharing only, see below for Audio):
Event Number: 908 239 193
Password: STARSeminar
Event address for attendees:


USA participants: 866-832-9297
Passcode: 6070416