Two of the scientists traveling with Greenpeace on the Arctic Sunrise are Dr. Julienne Stroeve, a research scientist at the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC), and Nick Toberg, an ice scientist at Cambridge University. I asked them what research they would be able to do on the ice, and for some insight into why Arctic sea ice is so important, and what impact the melting would have on our climate.
What will you be doing on the ice?
Julienne: I’ll be measuring ice thickness – it’s a more important measure than ice extent as it tells you about volume (total) loss. I can measure thickness in different spots by drilling with a hand augur, which can go two metres deep. I also hope to look at snow thickness, whether there are melt pools on the ice and whether they are frozen. As the ship is traveling we will also measure the ocean temperatures.
Nick: We will test impact of ocean waves as they hit the ice edge, using buoys fitted with accelerometers. This will fill in the missing physics of how the strength of the waves adds to the ice breaking up and melting. Broken ice reflects sunlight less well as the sun’s rays are absorbed into the ocean beneath. The lack of ice creates even stronger waves which break the ice up more the following year. Continue reading
I’m aboard the Greenpeace ship, the Arctic Sunrise, just out of Tromsø in northern Norway, to journey far north, to the edge of the Arctic sea ice.
We’ll be there for the sea ice minimum, the moment each year where the sea ice level is at its lowest, and where we can see the full impact of man-made climate change on this fragile and beautiful region of the world. We will be witnessing history – this year ice levels have already reached the lowest level ever recorded, and melting continues, at a rate of 40,000 sq km a day. Continue reading