Whether from the perspective of a helicopter pilot, a research scientist, or a local whale hunter, sea ice is an impactful part of Arctic life. Visit Frontier Scientists to watch new videos: ‘Barrow Ready Waiting‘, ‘Buoys On Ice‘, ‘Standing on the Beaufort Sea‘, and ‘First Year Or Multi Year Ice‘.
Geophysicist Andy Mahoney, assistant research professor at University of Alaska Fairbanks, gathers data to refine our understanding of Arctic sea ice. “It’s a mind-boggling and humbling terrain,” he told Frontier Scientists. “The forces involved in this can be tremendous. It’s the wind acting on the ice sometimes over hundreds of kilometers and it can generate a lot of surface stress on the ice that can push two ice floes together with an almost incomprehensible amount of force.”
Jeremy Kasper, assistant research professor at UAF, joined Mahoney offshore from Barrow, Alaska, to drop buoys from the air and place them on ice with the aid of seasoned helicopter pilot Lambert De Gavere. The buoys can track sea ice motion and serve in the event of an oil spill. “The motivation behind the ice tracker project was to basically test or verify that these very inexpensive ice drifters would be able to accurately track ice motion,” Kasper explained. Ice moves in ways that we still can’t fully predict.
“There’s a lot to be learned by sharing time on the ice with the people who live here in Barrow,” Mahoney described. “We have a very integrated system of observations with technological moorings and radars but also very fundamental knowledge from people out there living their lives.” Uncovering the details of how ice moves, and why, benefits from diverse sources of knowledge. “I have never failed to learn something new when I go onto the ice and talk to people who depend on this ice for their living and their livelihood.”
Nagruk Harcharek, Operations Manager, Ukpeagvik Inupiat Corporation (UIC) Science in Barrow, Alaska, talked sea ice with Frontier Scientists. “Since I was a kid I’ve noticed the ice, I guess, quality – and I say quality because I’m an active participant in the whaling community here in Barrow so quality of the ice is very important to us – since I was a kid and to this point the ice quality has degraded. It almost seems impossible that we can go out during the spring season and actually harvest whales, it’s getting so bad.”
Investigate the fate of sea ice in new Frontier Scientists videos featuring sea ice science.
Laura Nielsen 2015
Frontier Scientists: presenting scientific discovery in the Arctic and beyond
Science Videos Investigating Sea Ice Fate