Abstract's details

Overview and Status of the Copernicus Polar Ice and Snow Topography Altimeter (CRISTAL) Mission

Michael Kern (European Space Agency, Netherlands)


Robert Cullen (ESA, Netherlands); Tania Casal (ESA, Netherlands); Tommaso Parrinello (ESA, Italy); Michael Ludwig (ESA, Netherland); Gerhard Ressler (ESA, Netherlands); Patricia Marcos (ESA, Netherlands); Ignacio Navas Traver (ESA, Netherlands); Claudine Verlinden Verdier (ESA, Netherlands); Antonio Gabriele (ESA, Netherlands); Arnaud Lecuyot (ESA, Netherlands); Mark Drinkwater (ESA, Netherlands); Jerome Bouffard (ESA, Italy); Cristina Martin-Puig (EUMETSAT, Germany); Ole Andersen (DTU Space, Denmark); Annett Bartsch (BGEOS, Austria); Sinead Farrell (University of Maryland, USA); Sara Fleury (LEGOS, France); Simon Gascoin (CNRS, France); Amandine Guillot (CNES, France); Angelika Humbert (AWI, Germany); Eero Rinne (FMI, Finland); Andrew Shepherd (University of Leeds, UK); Michiel van den Broeke (Utrecht University, Netherlands); John Yackel (University of Calgary, Canada)

Event: 2019 Ocean Surface Topography Science Team Meeting

Session: The Future of Altimetry

Presentation type: Type Oral

Contribution: not provided


Evolution in the European Union’s Copernicus Program and the Copernicus Space Component (CSC) is foreseen in the mid-2020s to meet priority user needs not addressed by the existing infrastructure, and/or to reinforce services by monitoring capability in the thematic domains of CO2, polar, and agriculture/forestry. This evolution will be synergistic with the enhanced continuity of services provided by the next generation of the existing Copernicus Sentinels (Copernicus 2.0).

This presentation gives an overview of the scientific/user and technical requirements for the Copernicus Polar Ice and Snow Topography Altimeter (CRISTAL) Mission, a High Priority Candidate Mission (HPCM) currently studied in Phase A/B1 by ESA.

The primary objectives of the candidate mission are:
1. To measure and monitor the variability of Arctic and Southern Ocean sea-ice thickness and its snow depth. Seasonal sea ice cycles are important for both human activities and biological habitats. The inter-annual variability of sea ice is a sensitive climate indicator; it is also essential for long term planning of any kind of activity in the polar regions. Knowledge of snow depth will lead to improved accuracy in measurements of sea ice thickness and is required for improving forecast models. On shorter timescales, measurements of sea ice thickness and information about Arctic Ocean sea state are essential to support maritime operations in ice-covered waters.

2. To measure and monitor the surface elevation and changes therein of glaciers, ice caps and the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets. The two ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland store the majority of Earth’s fresh water and continued observations are important for understanding their contributions to sea level and climate change. Monitoring grounding line migration and elevation changes of floating and grounded ice sheet margins is important to identify and track emerging instabilities, which can negatively impact the stability of the ice sheets and result in future sea level rise.

The mission also has several secondary objectives: a) to contribute to the observation of global ocean topography as a continuum up to the poles;
b) to support applications related to coastal and inland waters. Observation of water level at the (Arctic) coast as well as of rivers and lakes is a key quantity in hydrological research; c) to support applications related to high latitude snow cover and permafrost.

Oral presentation show times:

Room Start Date End Date
The Forum Thu, Oct 24 2019,11:15 Thu, Oct 24 2019,11:30
Michael Kern
European Space Agency