Today marks the fourth week since the IARC summer school boarded the Akademik Fedorov in Kirkenes. I was initially worried about leaving responsibilities at the university, at home preparing for winter, and also my family, for almost five weeks as a participate in this school/expedition, but the weeks have gone by very quickly. The WRF/NEMO computer modeling project group has been busy wrapping up their final model runs of the 2012 Arctic Cyclone. For my part, I have been looking at how the modeled cyclone affects the sea-ice, when used as an input to a different model. This may allow us to say something about the cyclone’s effect on sea-ice, using the model results as a proxy for the actual cyclone’s effect on real sea-ice.
Perhaps more importantly than anything else I’ve learned during the cruise, as a life skill rather than scientific content, is the value of communication and teamwork. I typically work individually or closely with my advisor, and haven’t had the opportunity to work in a larger cooperative setting as we have in Volodya’s WRF project group. During the first few meetings, all of our group members seemed to speak at once, voicing our opinions and disagreements as we tried to make decisions. The sessions were chaotic and somehow each of us knew what we should be doing next. As the Friday deadline for our presentation approaches, these meetings have become much more coherent. We all know our roles in the team and understand how our individual contributions contribute to the larger goal. Further, my part of the project relies on input produced by four other group members. This is a lot different than the go-it-alone approach I usually have. During the cruise, as part of the project, I have run models for approximately 200 cpu-hours (i.e., the amount of time spent running the model with a single computer processor, usually while I’m sleeping), and only about 15 cpu-hours of the models were actually useful to the group. It seems like a lot of unnecessary work, but I learned a great deal about two models, and teamwork in the process.
Shout-outs to Julia and Doug on their birthdays!
- j. Stroh
Photo as we were leaving the port at Kirkenes
We celebrated another birthday on the ship! Alexey is one of our scientists on the meteorology team. He works with the team doing atmospheric observations, and is also responsible for monitoring the ocean swells during the expedition. A blush-inducing round of a happy birthday song at dinner was followed by delicious cake, and I wanted to say happy birthday again, or день рождения, to Alexey!
My last lecture was on satellite observations of oceanic eddies. Eddies are regions of rotating water, surrounded by non-rotating water. Eddies of different spatial scales evolve into the movement of great amounts of water, and therefore play an important role in the redistribution of pollutants and the delivery of nutrients for phytoplankton.
Eddies off the coast of France and Spain, Image: http://visibleearth.nasa.gov
First we looked through some satellite imagery showing various manifestations of eddies. In thermal imagery, eddies can be seen due to differences in sea surface temperature between the inside and outside of the eddies. In visible imagery, eddies are visualized by suspended particles in the water, which serve as passive tracers of their formation. In radar imagery, it is either surfactant films or enhanced signal backscattering on shear currents which make eddies visible.
Then, general ideas of eddy generation were discussed. Eddies can appear either due to velocity and density gradients in the water (in the photo I am demonstrating a gradient with my arms) or by applying a direct action. Among the most important physical reasons of eddy formation are friction caused by a coastline, fronts (borders between waters with different characteristics), variations in the coastline and bottom topography, and obstacles (like islands).
Finally I presented some results of my own research. I have studied mesoscale eddies (with a diameter of several tens of kilometers) and submesoscale eddies (up to about 20 km) in the Baltic, Black, Caspian, Red, and Mediterranean seas. Within this study I had to visually analyze about 10,000 images of different types and I manually detected about 20,000 eddies. As a result of this hard job, for the first time the areas of the most frequent eddy observations were defined, and the statistical parameters of eddy spatial scale were retrieved.
I think that in general the lecture was interesting. Now I can be more relaxed and spend more time enjoying the severe Arctic weather outside.
- Svetlana Karimova
Eddies in the Gulf of California. Image from http://visibleearth.nasa.gov
I would like to tell you about the measurements I take onboard the Akademik Fedorov. As my own research is connected with ionospheric plasma (the layer of the atmosphere where there is a high concentration of charged particles, beginning from 80km up), those of us from the Fedorov Institute of Applied Geophysics (named for the same famous Russian researcher as our ship), decided to install onboard a GPS receiver-Timble 5700. With this data we can calculate the total electron concentration in the ionosphere. Well, I’ve got to tell it like it is.
How does GPS receiver – Trimble 5700 work?
This is a two-frequency geodetic receiver, which means that it is able to obtain GPS signals on two ranges (L1= 1575.42MHz and L2 = 1227.6MHz). The receiver continually collects location information from three or more satellites, so that it can accurately “triangulate” its position. To then more precisely determine its position, the receiver calculates the “pseudo-range.” Pseudo-range is the distance between the satellite and the receiver, which is calculated more precisely by accounting for the signal delay, which is caused by the influence of the troposphere and the ionosphere. Another important piece of information we get from the receiver is the “phase change” of the signal coming from the satellite, again caused by the radio wave traveling through the ionosphere and the troposphere. All of this information is used in the calculation of total electron concentration in ionospheric plasma.
The GPS Trimble 5700 receiver. Photo from Ekaterina Perminova
The antenna on the deck of the ship. Photo from Ekaterina Perminova
Why is this important?
The ionosphere at high latitudes (i.e. the polar regions) has not been explored enough yet, and modeling of the ionosphere is difficult. But data about the ionosphere is very important for calculating radio paths and for supporting radio communication.
The “auroral oval” areas in the polar regions. It is the territory where ionization is much higher than in other regions (ionization is when neutral – or uncharged – particles become charged). The blue oval represents the highest level of ionization. Our expedition path has taken us around the Russian side of the Arctic. If you have ever wanted to see the Northern Lights, this is where you should come! Image from Ekaterina Perminova
Best wishes and a lot of ideas,
- Ekaterina Perminova, Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (State University)
This is me in the Arctic. Photo from Ekaterina Perminova
This was our first totally bright and sunny night in the Arctic. Photo from Ekaterina Perminova
This was the day when we saw polar bears! Photo from Ekaterina Perminova
In the middle of all the exciting things happening on the expedition – observing science operations like moorings and CTDs, assisting scientists in the hydrochemistry laboratory, and learning the official processes, languages, and instruments involved in atmosphere, ocean, and sea ice observations – students in the Summer School have been working away at various project options offered by Summer School instructors. So, what is everybody doing? The short answer is: stunningly complex, amazingly interesting studies of the Arctic climate. But let me try to explain a little more, so you have an idea of just how cool what everyone is doing really is. Presentations of findings are at the end of the week, so it’ll be interesting to see what everyone comes up with!
The WRF (Weather Research and Forecasting) Groups (Project Leader: Vladimir Alexeev, Summer School Director, International Arctic Research Center, University of Alaska-Fairbanks, USA)
1. Arctic Cyclone and Sea Ice (Tobias, Antoine, jake, Eric, Marie, Ioana):
This group is using 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.
Tobias and Vladimir
2. The “Dipole” conditions of the Arctic Summer of 2007 (Marie, Ioana) In 2007, the atmospheric conditions had an opposing, or dipole, state: On the Russian side of the Arctic was a low pressure system, and on the Canadian side was a high pressure system. They are trying to simulate those conditions in a model and see what effect the global ocean-atmosphere system had on the development of this atmospheric pattern.
Ioana and Marie
3. Hurricane Katrina Simulation (Svetlana K.) Using the WRF model, the goal is to simulate extreme weather events like Hurricane Katrina and a strong wind event near Novorossiisk, Russia, called bora. They are learning which parameters of the simulation, like spatial and time resolution and domain/region size, to represent Katrina most accurately. And for bora, they are analyzing the hydrometeorological conditions before and during the event.
The Permafrost Groups (Project Leader: Drew Slater, National Snow and Ice Data Center, Colorado, USA)
1. Developing a Permafrost Model (Florence, Marika, Meri, Mathieu) This group is developing 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 can determine how their model compares to existing permafrost models.
Florence, Drew, Marika, Mathieu
2. Evaluating Sea Ice Forecast Model (Alena M.) The goal of this project is 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 they will compare model results with direct observations.
Alena and Antoine
The Atmospheric Group (Project Leader: Irina Repina, A. M. Obukhov Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia)
Investigating the Planetary Boundary Layer (Ekaterina, Elena K., Irina L., Maria P., Anna G., Svetlana L.) This group is making 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 are learning about turbulent heat and air flow at the “boundary layer” between the atmosphere and the ocean, and how sea ice affects that layer.
The Hydrochemistry Group (Project Leader: Elena Vinogradova, P.P. Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia)
Measuring Silica in Water Samples (Anna N.) The goal is 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.
Hands-On Activity Development (Project Leader: Lindsay Bartholomew, Science Curator, Miami Science Museum, USA)
And everyone is working on developing a hands-on activity that would help students, and the general public, understand their research or field of interest. It might be a demonstration, a challenge, game-style… I can’t wait to see all the results!
Eric and Marie
I have taken quite a few pictures and now that the final week of the expedition is here, I’m already wondering what will my family and friends think when I show them the pictures. They will probably think that the scenery didn’t really change. Some days were less gray than others. Some days the grayness was replaced by whiteness. Some days the gray ocean was flat, some days wavy. Some days the ice was broken, some days there were clear turquoise stripes, some days the ice looked dirty. But unless you are an oceanographer, you are not likely thinking that there is something going on below the dark surface of the ocean. Yes, the ocean is changing from one location to other! You cannot see the change in temperature and salinity with your eyes but that’s what makes watching CTD (conductivity, temperature, depth) casts so fascinating.
For a 3000meters deep station, it takes about 2 hours for the CTD profiler to go down, and another 2 to get up. Okay, the way up looks quite similar to the way down, but still, there are 2 hours of excitement: how fresh will the surface layer be, how warm the Atlantic water layer, how thick the halocline? (Halocline means the layer where the salinity changes significantly with depth.) Here, close to the continental slope, another exciting feature is common: intrusions, or a zigzag pattern, in temperature and salinity, indicating that two water masses from different locations are meeting just below us. The zigzag pattern results when the two water masses have different properties, for example, when one is warm and saline (Atlantic water) and the other cold and fresh (water from this continental slope), but their density is the same. Because there is no density difference, neither of the water masses wants to be pressed below the other. Instead they try to intrude each other, thus the name “intrusion”.
In my recent research I have been assessing the variability and circulation of the Atlantic water entering the Arctic Ocean through the Barents Sea. This so-called Barents Sea branch of Atlantic water is colder than the other Atlantic water branch entering the Arctic through the Fram Strait, because over the shallow Barents Sea, the inflowing water is in contact longer with the atmosphere than in the narrow and deeper Fram Strait. North of the Severnaya Zemlya islands (off the north coast of Russia), these two branches meet and partly mix, which can be seen in the zigzag pattern in the temperature and salinity profiles. A later phase of the mixing process looks more like steps (like in the photo).
Here I am watching the readout of CTD measurements of the water with Ilona, a scientist in the hydrochemistry lab onboard
The CTD comes up with lots of data. In the center black grid, you can see the temperature profile in red and salinity in blue, and how they change significantly nearer the surface. The “roughness” in the line indicates mixing. Use your imagination and you can see the shape of a polar bear head!
Although the lab is crowded when we are at the station and they don’t need curious students around, between the stations is a good opportunity to sneak a peak of the CTD profile. In addition, this oceanographer at the vegetarian table in the dining hall has also learned to memorize the properties of the recent profiles, so as to keep the other vegetarian students of oceanography up to date in what is going on below us. The thought of being on top of the water that you are studying, in the exact time and place when the processes are taking place just underneath my bed, gives me a whole different perspective to the profiles that I analyze back home.
- Meri Korhonen
Looking out at the ocean we are analyzing from underneath
Imagine sharing just ONE email address with 130 of your closest friends. That is pretty much the situation on the ship. For 130 scientists, students, and crew, there is 1 radio room, 1 email address to send or receive messages, and a couple guys responsible for making it work (I have already introduced you to Oleg and Vladimir in the radio room). At the beginning of the cruise, the students and instructors of the Summer School (about 25 people in total) devised a system to streamline our email process, so we didn’t drive the guys in radio room insane. Here’s how it works. Every day, a different person is assigned to be “the postman.” Everyone must type their emails offline, save the text file on a flashdrive, find out who the postman is for the day, and then give that person their flashdrive with the file on it – only one time per day. After collecting a handful (or more) of flashdrives, the postman heads up to the 8th floor – the top deck of the ship where you can also find the Bridge where the Captain and crew navigate the ship – and delivers the mail to the radio room to be sent out. Also every day, everyone’s emails are printed out, once a day, and the other half of the postman’s job for the day is to pick up the email, in paper form, and deliver the mail to everyone. Rule of thumb: tell your family and friends to put your name in the subject line of their emails, otherwise the email might “bounce back” to the radio room as undelivered. Is everyone appreciating your easy and personal email contact a little more now?
Getting mail is one of the highlights of the day!
Никогда не думала, что смогу так быстро привыкнуть к новым людям. Я имею в виду моих девчонок из «клауд тим» и руководителя Ирину Репину. Мы вместе сидим за столом во время обеда, полдника и ужина (завтрак я обычно благополучно просыпаю), вместе ходим на измерения, обсуждаем лекции, смотрим фильмы, играем в игры, обсуждаем жизнь «вне» – прошлую и будущую (настоящей жизни «вне» нет). Подходят к концу моменты экспедиции: кому-то грустно, кому-то радостно (мне однажды приснилось, что я на берегу в Киркенесе выхожу в интернет, ахахах), кто-то об этом совсем не задумывается, а мне будет тяжело расставаться с девчонками и Ириной Анатольевной. Почти каждый вечер она проводит для нас «сказки на ночь», за эти полчаса она рассказывает очень занимательные и полезные вещи из мира физики и климатологии. Каждый раз я, слушая её, задумываюсь, как же, наверное, интересно быть её студентом. По сравнению с остальными проектами наш, мне кажется, будет самым «достоверным», никаких моделей, рассуждений о космосе и веществе, а только обзор прошедшего, нахождение взаимосвязей и причин. Мне это очень интересно. Когда приеду в Питер, мне будет не стыдно перед людьми, которые меня отправили в НАБОС-2013, потому что я узнала много нового (не только английских слов J ) и практически полезного. А ЕЩЁ Я ВИДЕЛА БЕЛУЮ РАДУГУ! Говорят, это очень редкое оптическое явление. Оно наблюдается только в полярных широтах, и такого цвета радуга из-за низких температур и, соответственно, мелких капелек в воздухе, через которые плохо преломляются солнечные лучи. Белых медведей видела, моржа видела, белую радугу видела, что же ещё… что же… ах, точно! – северное сияние, ну посмотрим-посмотрим…
Скоро уже буду дома, увижу своих любимых людей. Безумно скучаю по Тасе, сколько же всего мне нужно ей рассказать… и по Юрчику и Вике, мне их просто не хватает, не хватает их споров и обсуждений – люблю просто сидеть и слушать их, наслаждаться моими лучшими друзьями. Но, с другой стороны, не хочется покидать этот милейший корабль, надеюсь, что это не последняя наша с ним встреча (хотя он уже старичок). Здесь очень интересные люди, вроде бы узкоспециализированные, но тем не менее разносторонние. Мы прослушали лекции и по климатологии, и по моделированию, и по биологии, химии, геологии, океанологии. Всё было безумно интересно. Год назад я бы и подумать не могла, что здесь сейчас окажусь, что в сентябре буду лепить снежки и скользить, как на коньках, по пеленгаторной палубе НИСа! Вот это жизнь!
Me, on the ship’s top deck, with beautiful clouds behind, Photo from Anna Gnevasheva
There are a few days left till the end of our expedition. Our group project is to observe the Arctic boundary layer – a thin layer of the atmosphere located right above the surface of the ocean and sea ice. My part is to analyze synoptic (large-scale) weather maps and evaluate the relationship between the boundary layer and clouds. Since we are collecting observations until the end of the cruise, so we will have to analyze our data later at our universities and research institutes back home. I guess our project will be the most reliable because we will be using direct observations instead of models or predictions. Every day we have very interesting meetings with Dr. Irina Repina. She usually tells us a lot about climatology and physics. We call it “the tales before bedtime.” Sometimes she tells us about her adventures in the Arctic, Antarctic, the Black Sea, etc. I am sure I will miss her “tales” when I get back on land.
Life on the ship is very unusual. I am really amazed how quickly I was able to connect with new people. Our boundary layer team is really close. We work, eat and play together. We perform cloud observations, discuss lectures, watch movies and talk about our “real” lives. As the end of our expedition approaches someone feels sad, while someone feels happy. I had a dream the other night that I was back in Kirkenes surfing the internet!
Last year I could not have imagined that I would be here. I have learned a lot during this summer school. Our instructors on the ship know a lot about many different subjects – we had lectures about climatology, meteorology, modeling, biology, chemistry, geology, oceanology, etc. It was amazingly interesting. Also, I could have not imagined having snowball fights and sliding across the helicopter deck in August.
P. S. I HAVE SEEN A WHITE RAINBOW (on photo 2)! It is a rare, beautiful natural phenomenon which happens only in the polar region. This rainbow has a white color due to the low temperatures, so sunrays are not very intensely dispersed by the small water droplets in the air.
- Anna Gnevasheva
A white rainbow. Photo from Anna Gnevasheva
I feel like we keep having these turning points in the expedition, and we just had a literal turning point – we hit the northernmost point of the expedition! We reached nearly 85°N latitude (have a look on a globe how close that is to the very top), which was also the end of our latest transects. (New readers, a transect is when we travel on a straight line, from shallow to deep water, and deploy instruments along the way to measure water conditions.) We went out to see what the top of the world looks like, and to watch the latest CTD cast, which was headed down 3500meters (more than 2 miles down), and was the 97th of the expedition! (CTD, as my regular readers will know, stands for conductivity, temperature, depth, and we “cast” the instruments into the ocean to take measurements of the temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen levels, and more, at different depths – from the surface to the bottom.)
Our northernmost point, nearly 85°N latitude (and 90°E longitude) – we’re literally “off the map!”
This HUGE gear and pulley system just lowered the CTD instruments into the ocean.
The Sun barely and briefly peeked through cloudy skies, and ice floes were scattered in most directions – from our perspective, it appeared that one of the ice floes had an iceberg sitting in the middle of it, like a castle surrounded by an icy moat. When the CTD came up, and after the scientists gathered the water samples they needed for their experiments, they allowed me to come and take a sample of my own as a souvenir! So, several of us will be lucky enough to bring home water from the BOTTOM of the Arctic!
Our breathtaking view from nearly the top of the world. Photo from Florence van Tulder
One of the coolest souvenirs you can bring home from anywhere: several of us have gotten Arctic water samples from the CTD. Here, Rob from the International Arctic Research Center is helping me collect a water sample from 1000meters (two-thirds of a mile) down!
On this expedition, even though I am not taking seafloor samples for my own research, I very much enjoy discovering what other scientists study in the Arctic. In 2008, I was invited by my Ph.D. advisor to join an expedition on the western European margin of the Fram Strait extending into the fjords of Svalbard in the northern North Atlantic. It was a particularly nice gesture on his part because I did not participate to the writing of the original proposal. I have always appreciated the scientist for his intellect and ability to break down difficult concepts in bits and pieces easier to understand, but also the man himself for his sense of humor and genuine kindness. Thus, meeting with him again and one of his MS students only meant good times.
Our goal was to study the habitats selected by particular foraminifera (microscopic organisms that form a shell of calcium carbonate) species in the upper centimeters of the marine sediment. Benthic foraminifera shells have been extensively used in paleoceanography. This is the field of the Earth Sciences that studies past (or “paleo”) oceans and their physical, chemical and biological characteristics at a given time. For instance, has the temperature of the ocean changed through time? If so, what processes can explain such changes? Were they localized or global? Did the change happen simultaneously between the two hemispheres or not? The questions are endless and the scientific community very active in finding answers.
Live specimens of benthic forams; the size of these organisms is comparable to small grains of sand
Several tools and applications used to decipher past oceanic climate rest on benthic foraminifera (i.e. those living on the seabed), and particularly the chemical composition of their shells. It is broadly accepted that the geochemistry of said shells is sensitive to the habitats selected by particular foraminiferal species. In other words, where the forams live in the sediment is likely to affect the chemical make-up of the shells. Understanding these habitats, then, is essential for the proper interpretation of results based on benthic forams.
A traditional view, albeit too simple, is that forams’ habitats are vertically layered in the sediments. Forams needing lots of oxygen to thrive will be found at the interface between the water and sediment, while species adapted to more oxygen-depleted environments will bury deeper in the sediment. The first few centimeters of a marine sediment core should return different living species stacked on top of each others, each situated at a particular sediment depth with less and less oxygen as you go down into the core. Species are then supposed to acquire the geochemical characteristics found at these depths.
A micro-sensor is pushed into a layer of marine sediment to learn about the oxygen concentration
We collected oxygen concentration in the sediment with micro-sensor slowly pushed into it, counted live forams and visually inspected the surface of the sediment for the presence of tubes and burrow structures. Where worms had foraged the sediment, leaving behind tubes and burrows, oxygen was available deeper, and in higher concentrations. From our study, it is clear that forams are not tied to particular sediment depths but instead follow, or concomitantly escape, the “oxygen trail” created throughout the sediment.
How this is exactly affecting the tools developed off the shell chemistry of forams is still unclear. A better understanding of what exactly controls foraminiferal shell chemistry awaits better techniques for sampling their environment along the tubes and worms. Finally, more investigation of how species select for their habitat in different oceans will certainly be needed as well.
- Mathieu Richaud
Me, on the ship’s deck. Photo from Mathieu Richaud