Now, with long-term observations available from satellites and aircraft, better understanding of key relationships within the Earth system, and continual improvements in remote-sensing technologies, the current program has established the following objectives:
- To improve our understanding of the mechanisms controlling the mass balance and dynamics of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, including interactions with the ocean and atmosphere.
- To develop, validate and improve predictive models of the contributions of land-based ice to sea-level change.
- To improve our understanding of the mechanisms controlling sea ice cover, including interactions with the ocean and atmosphere.
- To develop, validate and improve predictive models of changes in sea ice cover, and their implications for the Earth system.
- To improve estimates of snow accumulation on land-based and sea ice.
The Cryospheric Science Program is part of the Earth Sciences Division (ESD) in the Science Mission Directorate (SMD) at NASA Headquarters. It provides:
- Funding and oversight to competed, investigator-led, cryosphere-related scientific studies at universities, NASA centers and other institutions.
- Support to cryosphere-related satellite mission Science Teams.
- Support for the collection of cryosphere-related observations through the Airborne Sciences Program.
- Investment in the development of satellite and airborne cryosphere-related data products, including storage and distribution capabilities.
In addition, the program sponsors several polar initiatives designed to encourage interdisciplinary approaches to cryospheric science problems:
- Program for Arctic Regional Climate Assessment (PARCA)
- Sea-level Response to Ice Sheet Evolution (SeaRISE)
- West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS), in partnership with the National Science Foundation (NSF)
Furthermore, NASA works closely with many interagency partners, especially the NSF's Office of Polar Programs, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Department of Defense (DoD), the U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL), and the United States Geologic Survey (USGS).