NOT Goodbye – See You Later!


Photo from our last day of the expedition, taken from the top deck of the ship.
It’s just “see you later!”
Photo from Antoine Barthélemy

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Back in Miami – Final Thoughts

I am back in Miami! It’s still not quite real what just happened – being in the Arctic, watching instruments being sent down 2.5 miles deep to take measurements of the ocean, a ship cracking through 6 foot thick ice, WALKING on that ice, meeting scientists (and new friends) who made me look at the world with new eyes, and seeing a part of the world I never even thought I would see. AND, on behalf of me and all of us at the Miami Science Museum, I know that sharing all of that knowledge and excitement with you was a huge part of why this was such a phenomenal experience. I am beyond grateful that this opportunity came our way, but it’s also nice to be home!


Me, standing on the frozen Arctic Ocean, drilling a hole to measure the sea ice. Who gets to do this?

After my first night off the ship, and my first day in Miami (after 2 days of traveling), I was thinking that “green” has many meanings. It really has to do with all the senses. Green is a color of course (I haven’t seen the color green for 5 weeks, and the trees are so many shades), a sound (the quiet rustling of leaves), a feel (the humidity of the tropics), a smell (flowers, grass and trees), and even a taste (we all were looking forward to our first fresh green salad). And of course it’s a way of thinking and being, when it comes to taking care of our Earth. (To all the students in Miami who followed along with me on this journey, I’ll be coming to visit your schools!)


Me and “Willy the turtle” (my faithful co-storyteller, who went to the Arctic to meet “Chilly the polar bear”) back in green Miami! (Even my hair already feels the humidity.)

Some final thoughts:

My wish for the scientists onboard the expedition:
If you don’t remember how cool what you do really is, remember. If you do remember how cool what you do really is, don’t forget (…and more people will also realize it).

My wish for all of us:
Appreciate where you live, and where you don’t live, and learn about it, because it’s all connected through climate.

A wish from around the world:
Only you fully know how it is there, on the icy ocean, far from home, making it possible to fulfill all this research. How many things you have to know and how deep the knowledge must be. Let interest and enthusiasm never leave you! Best regards from school #6, Nyagan, Siberia

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Presenting Our Results, PART 4: Reaching Out

If you didn’t realize it, you were a part of our final expedition presentations too! As the Outreach Lead and instructor of the NABOS Summer School, it was one of my goals (as part of one of the big goals of the Miami Science Museum) to take you along on the expedition, so you could learn about cutting-edge science, as it is happening in real time. At our final expedition presentation get-together, I also gave a summary of what I have been up to on the expedition. As you know if you have been following along, I have been regularly keeping up with this blog, Twitter, and Instagram, telling you about all the stories, showing you all the ridiculously cool pictures of ice (including all of us standing and working on the ice), huge pieces of equipment, the science labs, the ship itself, the polar bears (of course), and even telling you all about life onboard a research ship in the Arctic. And I have been answering all of your questions that you have posted all along the journey! But it’s not just me – I wanted the scientists onboard to share their research and thoughts with you, so they wrote and contributed blog posts, and helped me answer all of your questions! Here are some stats on the blog that we (including you) have accomplished together so far:

175+ posts
40+ posts written and contributed by scientists
21,500+ hits
1,200+ questions/comments
89 countries visited the blog


Communicating complex science to non-scientists is definitely challenging, and while I was here, I also led workshops on science communication. The Miami Science Museum is participating in Portal to the Public (a National Science Foundation-funded and Pacific Science Center-led initiative), which is a nationwide network of science centers and museums committed to working with scientists on communication strategies to share their research with the public. So during the expedition we talked about making personal connections, remembering the pleasure of finding things out, and making experiences meaningful – so that these scientists can themselves inspire the next generation of scientists! I then challenged the scientists onboard to use these strategies to develop a concept for their own hands-on activity that would help the public understand their research – which would then go back home with the scientists, and also come back home with me to Miami! Here are just a couple hints at those activities:

Alena Activity

Art of Science: Decision-Making in Computer Modeling

mini-Jake Activity

You are the Data Points: Building a Live Data Model

Florence Activity

Sampling, Filtering, Observing: Primary Production in the World Oceans, Photo from Florence van Tulder

Armed with everything I have learned here, all of the photos, videos, stories, new potential collaborators, activities, and even water from melted Arctic ice, and from water samples taken at a depth of 1000meters, be on the lookout for some of this to appear in programs, activities, and events at the Museum soon!



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Final Route

We have completed 5726 miles in and around the Arctic Ocean! I gave you our navigational coordinates (along with temperatures) for anyone who wanted to track our route, and now here is our final, completed route, beginning and ending at our port in Kirkenes, Norway.


Here’s how the data is listed below:
Latitude, Longitude
Air Temperature, Water Temperature

69°43’N, 30°03’E
15°C, 13°C

75°03’N, 46°22’E
8°C, 8°C

76°11’N, 50°32’E
7°C, 7°C

80°59’N, 72°55’E
3°C, 3°C

81°40’N, 88°52’E
1°C, 1°C

79°32’N, 105°32’E
1°C, 1°C

77°12’N, 124°50’E
0°C, 0°C

78°09’N, 125°48’E
0°C, 0°C

79°57’N, 125°59’E
0°C, 2°C

80°47’N, 125°42’E
0°C, -1°C

80°48’N, 132°37’E
0°C, -1°C

79°37’N, 143°19’E
-1°C, -1°C

80°37’N, 137°39’E
-2°C, -1°C

79°59’N, 152°01’E
-6°C, -1°C

80°13’N, 155°48’E
-2°C, -1°C

79°35’N, 148°05’E
1°C, 1°C

78°33’N, 133°45’E
0°C, 0°C

77°38’N, 125°51’E
1°C, 1°C

79°45’N, 125°46’E
3°C, 2°C

78°26’N, 125°53’E
0°C, 0°C

80°00’N, 115°25’E
0°C, -1°C

79°56’N, 107°42’E
-1°C, 0°C

82°03’N, 112°17’E
-4°, -1°

81°09’N, 105°37’ E
0°, -1°

81°15’N, 98°08’E
-2°, 0°

82°06’N, 97°01’E
-1°, -1°

84°24’N, 93°27’E
-2°, -1°

83°29’N, 90°01’E
-2°, -1°

82°29’N, 89°48’E
-1°, -1°

81°34’N, 81°05’E
-2°, -2°

80°46’N, 67°26’E
0°, 1°

77°20’N, 52°19’E
4°, 5°

72°47’N, 41°08’E
9°, 9°

69°45’N, 30°04’E
9°, 11°

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Presenting Our Results, PART 3: Student Projects


2013 NABOS Summer School students and instructors

With the expedition coming to an end, we also got to see the results of all the stunning and complex work of the NABOS Summer School students, who have been working throughout the expedition on projects presented by Summer School instructors (described in the “Project Time!” post from 9/18). NABOS Summer School Director Vladimir Alexeev, of the International Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, shared some overall successes of the Summer School – successfully incorporating students into science observations onboard… hosting 55 lectures from students as well as scientists onboard (remember the collaborative nature of science?)… the building of new friendships and professional relationships… and the students producing some publish-worthy project results. As you are looking at these detailed figures, remember the BIG picture. Students are trying to understand the Great Arctic Cyclone of 2012… Hurricane Katrina… global permafrost… sea ice forecasting… the planetary boundary layer between the atmosphere and ocean… Arctic silica… Enjoy the beautiful results of what they created, along with captions that they included for you. None of these pictures tell the whole story, but you can see how there are so many parts of the picture!


Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Project: Modeling the Great Arctic Cyclone of 2012
(Tobias, Antoine, jake, Eric, Marie, Ioana)

Project: The goal was to use the WRF meteorological model (which is on the regional scale) along with an ocean/sea ice model (on the global scale) to simulate the great Arctic cyclone of 2012 – and the subsequent record minimum of sea ice that year.

pic_Tobias (2)

We simulated the “Great Polar Cyclone” of 2012 in a meso-scale meteorological model and used the information on the winds and temperatures to force a coupled ocean-sea ice model. The figure shows the wind speeds during 2012-08-06 (00:00 UTC) that we used for forcing the sea ice model. The maximum resolved wind speeds were around 15 m/s. You can easily recognize the cyclone by the location of the highest wind speeds. The cyclone was located on the west side of the Arctic (the top of the picture), where you also can recognize the Bering Strait.


Changes in sea ice extent and in sea ice volume due to different storm strengths. The “ctrl winds” horizontal lines correspond to the reference storm strength, the “winds / 2” curves correspond to a weaker storm (winds speeds divided by two) and the “winds * 2” curves correspond to a stronger storm (winds speeds multiplied by two). The time interval during which winds are adjusted in the model is indicated by the vertical lines. The three rows correspond to different states of the sea ice before the storm.


The Minimum Sea Level Pressure between Aug 2 (midnight, UTC) and Aug 15 (6pm, UTC) for 3 WRF cases with differing sea ice boundary conditions. Red lines indicate the respective entry and exit points of the cyclone into and out of the physical region in which the model is simulated.

mini-Marie figure

Here is a simulation of the ‘great’ Arctic cyclone of 2012 with WRF, driven with atmospheric data derived from observation (known as ERA-Interim reanalysis) and a spatial resolution of 47.5°. Color contours indicate the mean sea-level pressure on August 6, 2012 at 6pm UTC. The black dots mark the track of the cyclone, starting on August 4, 12pm, until August 14, 12pm. The cyclone track is obtained by the detection of the minimum of the mean-sea level pressure within the region.


Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) – Modeling Hurricane Katrina
(Svetlana K.)

Project: Using the WRF model, the goal was to simulate extreme weather events like Hurricane Katrina and a strong wind event near Novorossiisk, Russia, called bora. Another goal was to learn which parameters of the simulation to use (like spatial and time resolution and region size) in order to represent Hurricane Katrina most accurately; and for bora, to analyze the hydrometeorological conditions before and during the event.

mini-Karimova figure

This figure shows the results of our 4 models, each run at a different spatial resolution. The image shows that our model run at a resolution of 20kilometers most accurately follows the path of the actual hurricane (the colored dots connected by the white path), although all of the modeled hurricanes showed late landfall times. For reference, the actual atmospheric pressure was 902mb.


Developing a Permafrost Model
(Florence, Mathieu, Marika, Meri)

Project: This group developed a computer model to determine the potential presence or absence of permafrost in locations throughout the northern hemisphere. (Permafrost is anything – ice, soil, rock – that stays below at below-freezing temperatures for at least two years.) By inputting factors like soil temperature, air temperature, snow depth and density, and a given year and month, they could determine how their model compares to existing permafrost models.

mini-Mathieu figure

The model produced images of the type of permafrost is present in the northern hemisphere. We adjusted model parameters to determine what changes would occur in permafrost extent, given different conditions. This is the surface frost index (F+) 10-year average from 2000 to 2009 for the Northern Hemisphere. Using the colored scale in the image, it can be seen that continuous permafrost occurs where F+ ≥ 0.67, extensive discontinuous permafrost occurs where 0.67 > F+ > 0.6, and sporadic permafrost is present where F+ > 0.5.


Evaluating Sea Ice Forecast Model

Project: The goal of this project was to assess the results of a computer model which applies probability and trends in sea ice conditions, as opposed to current weather data, in forecasting those conditions. To do this, model results were compared with direct observations.

mini-Alena Final Pres

Sea ice extent observed and modeled from March-October 2010. There is significant negative error (i.e. the observed values are bigger than the modeled values) in July-August, caused by rapid changes in sea ice concentration but small changes in sea ice extent.


Investigating the Planetary Boundary Layer
(Ekaterina, Elena K., Irina L., Maria P., Anna G., Svetlana L.)

Project: This group made visual observations of clouds, and evaluating the performance of the MTP instrument (Meteorological Temperature Profiler) in different cloud conditions versus data from the radiosondes (weather balloons) launched from the ship. They learned about turbulent heat and air flow at the “boundary layer” between the atmosphere and the ocean, and how sea ice affects that layer.

mini-khavina project

This is a comparison of the MTP-5 (meteorological temperature profile) data versus radiosonde (weather balloon) data, in order to evaluate the capabilities of the MTP-5 in clear versus cloudy conditions. On the right, in clear weather, the data show a 90% correlation coefficient between the two methods. In cloudy/humid weather, the MTP-5 data does not correlate well with the radiosonde data (the cloud level begins at about 150meters). The next step is to create a data processing algorithm to account for using the MTP-5 in cloudy conditions.


This shows that we have an atmospheric surface layer to a height of 300m, and an atmospheric boundary layer between 300m and 1700m in height (where you can see the curve do a “switchback”). The behavior of the temperature curve is good indicator of when the boundary layer begins. The boundary layer is very important for climate modeling, because it helps define the layers of stability in the atmosphere.


Hydrochemistry: Measuring Silica in the Arctic
(Anna N.)

The goal was to assist in the HydroChem lab onboard, and to measure silica content from water samples from all of the CTD stations (we have had about 100 stations so far). They will now analyze the results to learn about differences in water at different depths and different locations throughout the Arctic. This study will tell them about marine life conditions, which help suggest ideal fishing practices.

Anna N_Final Pres

The picture shows all CTD stations made during the cruise. Comparing transects (the circled areas), we found striking differences in silica content between the seas (influenced by Atlantic waters) to the west of the Lomonosov Ridge (the shallow ridge in the top right part of the image) and the East Siberian Sea, which is influenced by waters from the North Pacific.

To be continued with my own results from the expedition…!

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Question of the Day

There are more of our expedition results coming your way, but in the meantime, here is something on my long list of things I will miss afterward…. They say that imagination is right up there in importance with knowledge when it comes to being a scientist – even Einstein himself thought so. Some of the places that we all put our imaginations to work every day during the expedition were in the labs, on projects, with experiments, and… at the dinner table. It became a mealtime tradition for someone to ask Florence, a Summer School student onboard, for another one of her seemingly infinite supply of “questions of the day” (which always started discussions – and most of the time impassioned debates). Here are some of them for you to consider:

What would your first choice of superpower be?
If you were a movie director, what genre and plot would your first movie have?
If you could automatically gain any skill overnight, what be the first thing you would create using that skill?
If you could go “any-when” in time, when/where would you go?
If you could be doing anything right now, what would it be?
If you could invent one thing, regardless of the limits of current science, what would you invent?
If you could use only one tool or instrument in your scientific research, what would it be?
If you were a mad scientist, what kind of super-secret lair would you have?

And just before the expedition ended:
What is the first thing you want to do when you get back to land?

(For this there were only two answers among the group – eat a salad, and go for a walk – but refer to the caption below…)



The real “first thing” everyone did when they got to land – try to get online!

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Presenting Our Results, PART 2: Team Science

I think the word team should be used more often to describe science, and this expedition just proved me right on that idea. We have multiple teams onboard: Chemistry, Meteorology, Ice, Hydrology, Technology, and the Summer School. Each of those teams has a team leader, and all of those teams work together. Each team reported on what they have accomplished, and here is our report card for you too!


John Kemp of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, on the Tech team, reported that all 5 ITPs (ice-tethered profilers) deployed during the expedition are already successfully sending data to be analyzed.


Irina Repina of the Obukhov Institute of Atmospheric Physics in Russia, team leader of the Meteo team, talked about the successful observational study of the boundary layer between the atmosphere and the ocean/sea ice by comparing two different instruments onboard, the MTP-5 (Meteorological Temperature Profiler) and radiosonde weather balloon instruments.


Andrey Masanov of the Arctic Antrarctic Research Institute (AARI) in Russia, and Ice team leader, spoke about the ice observations on the expedition. Ice conditions during the cruise were characterized by the existence of a well-pronounced marginal ice zone (MIZ), which separated zones of consolidated pack ice with 100% concentration and open water areas. This caused specific issues during operation: high seas in the open water and thick heavy ice in the ice zones.


Sergey Kirillov, also from AARI and Hydro team leader, said they had successfully taken 15tons of water samples during the expedition, that the team has been, and will continue to analyze to explore and better understand vertical mixing and heat transport from the Atlantic to the Arctic.

mini-Ice core group

Alice Orlich of the International Arctic Research Center (IARC) at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks and instructor of the NABOS Summer School, talked about the ASSIST Sea Ice Observational Program, and successfully leading students in making observations of an ice thickness transect (of course this was a highlight for students, since it involved being on the ice).

Cape Arktichesky

Rob Rember, also from IARC and Chem team leader, gave some impressive statistics of the successes of the chemistry team onboard. Over the 116 CTD (conductivity-temperature-depth) casts, they were able to take literally thousands of measurements of water samples taken by the CTD – salinity, nutrients, dissolved oxygen, nitrates, methane, dissolved organic matter, chlorophyll, and more. He also shared these colorful and intricate preliminary results, so I can sum it up for you (see below for more details about how this image works – click the image for a larger view).

Imagine getting a cross-section view of the ocean, from surface to sea floor – that it what you see here.  You can see the water coming from the St. Anna Trough (from the left), and in the temperature graph, two distinct water masses – the red is the warmer water from the Fram Strait (which connects the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans), and the blue is water from the Barents Sea coming out of the St. Anna Trough. Now look at the Oxygen graph, and notice how the oxygen levels vary for those two water masses – the blue here is the Barents Sea water, which is splitting the Fram Strait water (in pink) into two bands. Now, transmission refers to the percentage of light that reaches a target as it passes through water. Here you can see the water in green has low transmission – it is near the shore and all those particles mixed in the water block more of that laser beam. The take-away message here? Patterns are clear. Next steps? Where is the heat going in the picture – up? Down? To the side? More analysis to come at home!

To be continued with student projects, and my projects too…!

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Presenting Our Results, PART 1: Success by the Numbers

On our last full day of the expedition, we all “gathered round the campfire” (in our case, in the cafeteria/dining hall onboard) so everyone could share results of what they had accomplished during the expedition – and what their plans were for continuing to analyze data and carry on collaborating even after everyone is back home. Our Chief Scientist on the expedition, Vladimir Ivanov, started our round of final presentations with some statistics on this National Science Foundation-funded NABOS (Nansen and Amundsen Basins Observational System) expedition:

5726 – Miles covered
116 – CTD (conductivity-temperature-depth) casts
7890 – Chemical samples taken
49 – XBT/XCTD (expendable CTDs) launched
1 – Glider launched
5 – ITP (ice-tethered profiler) buoys deployed
1 – O-buoy deployed
1 – IMB (ice-mass balance) buoy deployed
20 – Meteo (meteorology) buoys deployed
29 – Days of continuous registration of sea-air interaction patterns
47 – Radiosondes launched
10 – Boundary layer measurements on the ice
55 – Lectures given

Impressed yet? He continued with the overall summary of the expedition. Here are just a few things checked off the list of successes:

…Work Plan for the NABOS 2013 expedition aboard the Akademik Fedorov? Check.
…Obtain scientific results and prove the efficiency of the NABOS observational strategy (which combines autonomous anchored moorings and adjoining CTD transects)? Check.
…Create a multi-disciplinary and international research team by joining scientists from multiple countries and research institutes? Check.
…Include a NABOS Summer School component on the expedition, for early-career scientists and PhD students to take part in climate research firsthand? Check.

To be continued…!


Vladimir Alexeev (Director, NABOS Summer School), me, and Vladimir Ivanov (NABOS Chief Scientist)


Some of the science team, who made it all happen


The Summer School group, who also helped make it all happen


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Family Photos!

At the end of the expedition, it is only fitting that we have a “family photo,” also known as “the group photo of the entire team who made the expedition a success.” We all gathered at the biggest open space on the ship, on the huge heli-deck, and here we are! (Plus a few more as we were all on the deck, and then as were all finally back on land!)

Check back, some of our expedition results and “report card” still to come! (Hint: Keyword = success)


The big “family photo”


The NABOS Summer School instructors and students


Some of the NABOS 2013 Science Team


Representing the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology


Some Summer School students giving Director Vladimir Alexeev a lift.






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Today we saw land for the first time in 5 weeks, and will be stepping on solid ground! As soon as land appeared in the distance, people flocked to the helideck and the top deck of the ship to watch the land get closer, the details and colors in the rocks and plants become more vivid, and even watch the “little” Norwegian boat motor out to us to drop off a pilot to help steer our huge ship back into port. I was remembering how I saw people react when we first saw ice, as I watched people’s reactions and smiles to seeing land. Here are some of the reactions I saw and heard:

I don’t want the expedition to be over.
Look at the colors – it changed seasons while we were gone!
This was an incredible time.
It’s so beautiful!
Even the Sun is welcoming us back.
And… silence (for those who just stared at the view of the expedition ending and home getting closer)
And… giddy smiles and laughter! :)

(Not to mention if “dockrock” – the reverse of “seasick” – is actually a real thing…)








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