Arctic Studies

IGERT Fellow Measures Ocean Ice with NASA PDF Print E-mail

Dartmouth IGERT Fellow Chris Polashenski and IGERT faculty member and CRREL engineer Don Perovich have returned from two weeks on the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy in the Chukchi Sea where they were studying changes in sea ice cover.

Reprinted from NASA News, 7/23/10 -- Cutting Into Arctic Ice

Chris Polashenski drilling into the ice
IGERT Fellow Chris Polashenski drilling into sea ice

Since 1979, satellites have tracked changes to Arctic sea ice extent, showing dramatic declines. On average the ice is losing about 13 percent of its summer coverage each decade and the record low was set in 2007. The decline raises two key questions: Why are these changes happening and what do they mean for Arctic ecosystems, particularly the ocean-dwelling plants -- phytoplankton -- that play an integral role in Earth's carbon cycle?

Exploring those questions since last month is the ICESCAPE mission onboard the Healy, which is studying the physics, chemistry and biology of the ocean and sea ice within a changing Arctic. On 12 days scattered throughout the five-week mission, the Healy "parked" amid an ice floe and teams of ice scientists stepped foot on the floating ice for a close up look.

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