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NASA issued a Press Release on Arctic mercury at

This is based on a new paper published on Nature which Son V. Nghiem co-authored presenting results from the BROMEX field campaign in 2012.

New science understanding of Arctic mercury processes may help in the efficacy assessment of the Minamata Convention to curb mercury pollution which specifically calls out the problem in the Arctic


A 21-hour Canada flight was completed on December 18. The aircraft had 10% less range than Northrop Grumman had expected, probably due to the slightly higher drag of the UAVSAR configuration. This is the first time that the radar transited at altitudes above 50kft. Temperature readings of various radar components at 60kft altitude were high but within acceptable range.  Six data takes were recorded but were receiving error messages which indicated active array antenna commanding fault throughout the flight. Brief post-flight testing revealed that antenna commanding fault was most likely caused by physical damage in the antenna control path, such as a broken wire. Investigation of the cause of the connection failure and corrective action will continue.

The good news is that quick fixes made to improve the Onboard Processor software robustness worked, and we were able to process radar data and save processed imagery onboard although we did not have the Ku-band satellite link for most of the flight to downlink the imagery in real time. We were able to play back the processed imagery when the Ku-band link returned an hour before landing which showed that the antenna was not transmitting during the data takes (as speculated).

Northrop Grumman would like to fund UAVSAR to repeat the Canada mission sometime this year (March or June). 

Pictured is a Polarimetric color-overlay image of Owens Lake from the first engineering flight on Friday, December 13. This data take was acquired at 41 kft, comparable to G-III altitudes.

  • Polarimetric color-overlay image of Owens Lake from the first engineering flight on Friday, December 13. This data take was acquired at 41 kft, comparable to G-III altitudes.

The L-band radar conducted 2 local flights for Sacramento Delta levee monitoring and San Andreas Fault monitoring as well as soil moisture measurements over Tonzi Ranch for comparison and cross-calibration with the AirMOSS data.  Production processing has recovered from the October government shutdown which prevented access to the Ames supercomputer.  For the month of November, we exceeded planned processing throughput targets by delivering 280 POLSAR products (vs 150 planned) and 491 browse RPI products (vs 140 planned).  The increase in throughput is the result of automating job submission and streamlining QA (Quality Assessment) process as well as utilizing the Ames supercomputer to perform RPI browses processing. 


Science observations have been completed over MOISST (OK), Walnut Gulch (AZ), and Tonzi Ranch (CA), and the radar is now back at JPL for the winter maintenance period. The radar processing team is working with the science team to resolve calibration issues.


The CARVE science team is preparing for presentations which will be delivered at the American Geophysical Union 46th annual fall meeting. CARVE presentations include:

The Carbon in Arctic Reservoirs Vulnerability Experiment (CARVE) FTS: Results From the 2012/13 Alaska Campaigns.

Boreal forest fires impacts on atmospheric methane, carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide during the 2013 NASA CARVE campaign CARVE Measurements of Atmospheric Methane Concentrations and Emissions in Arctic and Boreal Alaska

Constraining estimates of methane emissions from Arctic permafrost regions with CARVE

The Carbon in Arctic Reservoirs Vulnerability Experiment (CARVE): Comparison of 2012 and 2013 Results

Landscape Temperature and Frozen/Thawed Condition over Alaska with Infrared and Active/Passive Microwave Remote Sensing: Determination of Thermal Controls on Land-Atmosphere Carbon Flux in Support of CARVE


The L-band radar embarked on a 10-day deployment on November 6 to Japan via Hawaii for volcano observations. Two of the three planned flights in Japan were completed; the third flight had to be postponed because of unfavorable weather. On the return trip home, one local flight will be conducted over the Kilauea volcano on the Big Island.


On October 30, CARVE decided to conclude the very successful CARVE 2013 Alaska campaign. This year, CARVE 2013 completed 45 Alaskan flight days and 262 science flight hours. In addition, CARVE transferred ~ 1.4 Terabytes from the CARVE Fairbanks field computer to the JPL CARVE Grounds Data System (GDS) for processing.

Major CARVE Milestones completed during this campaign:

·      All 2012 CARVE data released to the public

·      CARVE’s PLRA Alaskan science flight threshold of 320 hours was exceeded on July 6 2013! Currently, CARVE’s combined total for 2012 and 2013 is 465 science flight hours. CARVE’s PLRA Baseline requirement is 500 science flight hours in 3 years.

On November 2, 2013 CARVE was featured on The Weather Channel’s Tipping Points series number 3 of 6, “The Permafrost of the High Arctic.”


UAVSAR conducted the second of a pair of observations (a week apart) over the Slumgullion landslide study site in Colorado and also acquired data in northern Arizona for a subsidence study (PI: Brian Conway of the State of Arizona). On this flight, high fidelity real-time SAR image formation was successfully demonstrated with the Onboard Processor developed under an ESTO AIST task.


The Science campaign resumed on October 23 with two science flights over Tonzi Ranch after much coordination with Beale Air Force Base and NASA frequency coordinators at Goldstone Facility. Radar data has now been successfully acquired over all 9 biomes. Preliminary assessment of the radar imagery looks very good, with little radio frequency interference. Two calibration flights were also conducted over the Rosamond corner reflector array in between the Tonzi Ranch flights to assess the calibration stability of the P-band radar.


The DFRC G-III resumed flying L-band flights last week and imaged the Sacramento Delta Levee study area (PI: Jones) and the Slumgullion landslide study site in Colorado (PI: Fielding). This week, UAVSAR is wrapping up a 3-day deployment to New Orleans for the Gulf Coast subsidence monitoring study (PI: Ron Blom and Cathleen Jones). Cathleen Jones and Ron Blom utilized UAVSAR repeat-pass data to capture the precursor surface movement of a major sinkhole in Louisiana (the Bayou Corne sinkhole) that was discovered at least one month prior to the actual sinkhole formation. This finding has been peer-reviewed and accepted for publication in Geology.

Japan deployment via Hawaii for volcano studies is scheduled to depart on November 6 and return on November 16. The team is awaiting final diplomatic clearance from Japan.