Arctic Cyclone Discovered By Isotope Experiment

Using new isotope analysis tools, University of Alaska Anchorage scientists were able to analyze and measure the passage of an arctic cyclone in real-time from 100 miles away.

Arctic Cyclone Discovered By Isotope Experiment

Step out of the lab and head to Toolik Field Station in the remote foothills of North Alaska. There, new laser-based technology allows Dr. Jeff Welker, Fulbright Distinguished US Arctic Chair and professor of Ecology in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Alaska Anchorage, and his team to collected water vapor samples continuously one-time per second, measuring isotopic ratios as well as levels of greenhouse gasses carbon dioxide and methane. “What we discovered is: we’re actually able to monitor arctic sea ice conditions 100 miles south of the actual arctic coast, and do this in real-time,” Welker said.

Dr. Eric Klein, research scientist at the University of Alaska Anchorage in the Department of Biological Sciences and the Arctic Domain Awareness Center, stated “We actually were able to analyze and measure the passage of an arctic cyclone.” Welker explained “The cyclone built and developed itself over in Eurasia and it spun and came across northern Alaska and it fractured the ice across that area. In doing so it also brought wind down into the foothills of Alaska where we were able to capture this event in real time because the isotope properties had changed.”

Isotope experiment discovers measures distant arctic cyclone

Isotope experiment discovers measures distant arctic cyclone / Courtesy NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Cyclone illustration / Courtesy NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

 

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Project Summary

Sniffing The Arctic

Sniffing The Arctic

Sniffing The Arctic — Warming Arctic temperatures, sea ice changes, and upsets in atmospheric trends can alter the jet stream and impact weather systems in North America. Now through new advances in isotope science we can sniff Arctic air to better... Read More >