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
24 April 2020
CryoSat scientific users are informed that the problem in the delivery of auxiliary data has been resolved.
23 April 2020
Due to a delay in the delivery of auxiliary data all the CryoSat near real time production (i.e. FDM, NRT and NOP data) may be suffering from degraded quality starting from validity date 22 April 2020.
ESA is seeking proposals for a new activity aimed at the operational generation and distribution of a collection of CryoSat ThEMatic PrOducts (Cryo-TEMPO) in the areas of sea ice, polar oceans, land ice, coastal areas and hydrology. This activity will build on multiple previous research and development projects and will support a wide community of end-users.
Latest Mission Results News
08 April 2020
Today marks 10 years since a Dnepr rocket blasted off from an underground silo in the remote desert steppe of Kazakhstan, launching one of ESA's most remarkable Earth-observing satellites into orbit.
27 January 2020
Ice loss from Pine Island Glacier has contributed more to sea-level rise over the past four decades than any other glacier in Antarctica. However, the way this huge glacier is thinning is complex, leading to uncertainty about how it is likely to raise sea level in the future. Thanks to ESA's CryoSat mission, scientists have now been able to shed new light on these complex patterns of ice loss.
13 December 2019
It is now almost 10 years since ESA's CryoSat was launched. Throughout its decade in orbit, this novel satellite, which carries a radar altimeter to measure changes in the height of the world's ice, has returned a wealth of information about how ice sheets, sea ice and glaciers are responding to climate change. One of the most recent findings from this extraordinary mission shows how it can be used to map changes in the seaward edges of Antarctic ice shelves.
10 December 2019
The Greenland ice sheet is losing mass seven times faster than in the 1990s, according to new research.
05 August 2019
The rapidly changing climate in the Arctic is not only linked to melting glaciers and declining sea ice, but also to thinning ice on lakes. The presence of lake ice can be easily monitored by imaging sensors and standard satellite observations, but now adding to its list of achievements, CryoSat can be used to measure the thickness of lake ice – another indicator of climate change.
24 July 2019
Our knowledge of the depth and shape of the Arctic Ocean floor – its bathymetry – is insufficient. Owing to year-round sea-ice coverage and the cost of research in this remote region, much of the Arctic Ocean's bathymetry has remained a mystery, until now.
11 July 2019
We are all aware of the ebb and flow of the tide every day, but understanding tidal flow is important for a range of maritime activities and environmental monitoring, such as search and rescue operations, shipping routes and coastal erosion.
By combining 25 years of ESA satellite data, scientists have discovered that warming ocean waters have caused the ice to thin so rapidly that 24% of the glacier ice in West Antarctica is now affected.
14 May 2019
Unfortunately ice is a hot topic when it comes to understanding and monitoring how this fragile component of the Earth system is being affected by climate change. Scientists, therefore, go to great lengths to study changes happening in the remote icy reaches of our planet – a subject that is being discussed in detail at this week's Living Planet Symposium in Italy.
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.