ICEBERG Strives to Unravel Mystery of the Arctic

The remote Arctic region remains largely a mystery to scientists due to its sheer magnitude. The three-year collaborative project ICEBERG is determined to change that.

Funded by a $1.85 million National Science Foundation grant, the ICEBERG research team will employ supercomputers to analyze high resolution images of the Arctic taken via satellite. The ultimate goal is to provide scientists with a new imagery-computing superhighway that will allow them to study processes at much larger spatial scales than has been previously possible.

Electrical and computer engineering associate professor Shantenu Jha serves as one of the project’s five principle investigators nationwide. His Rutgers-based team is composed of electrical and computer engineering research associate Matteo Turilli and computer engineering undergraduates Jake Lewandowski, Alexander Dewey, and William Cheng.

“ICEBERG represents a major investment by the NSF to develop algorithms and software systems at the interface of high-performance computing and data science to transform the way we study the polar regions and thus better understand our climate,” Jha said. “ICEBERG will have major impact in both polar science as well as the technological capabilities available for polar science thanks to the integration of high-performance computing and high-resolution satellite imagery.”

In other words, the project aims to build the cyberinfrastructure necessary to get the most information possible out of satellite imagery for polar science and geoscience at large. In fact, ICEBERG is the acronym of the resulting system—Imagery Cyberinfrastructure and Extensible Building-Blocks to Enhance Research in the Geosciences.

The team will employ ICEBERG to investigate four initial applications: the effect of climate change on glaciers, sea levels, and Arctic wildlife—as well as the classification of geological characteristics such as snow, mineral deposits, and water via algorithms.

The highly-collaborative project includes researchers from Stony Brook University, University of California Santa Barbara, University of Colorado Boulder, and Northern Arizona University. ICEBERG is supported by the NSF EarthCube program, which works to transform geoscience research by developing cyberinfrastructure for the analysis, visualization and sharing of data.

To learn more about ICEBERG or to find out how you can get involved, visit

Story by Manya Goldstein