Post from a Scientist: “Modeling Teamwork”

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

Photo as we were leaving the port at Kirkenes

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18 Responses to Post from a Scientist: “Modeling Teamwork”

  1. Chris Bess says:

    It looks gorgeous today, what’s the temperature ?

    • lindsay says:

      Hey Chris, the temperature here has been down below -7°C or 19°C, but the wind makes it feel even colder. That’s another reason why it’s so nice when the Sun comes out!

  2. Bryan Martinez says:

    What is the difference between the mediterranean water and arctic water flow? What is the difference from the saltiness and densities?

    • lindsay says:

      Hi Bryan, density and salinity depends on the location and depth of the water, but nearer the surface, the Mediterranean is warmer and saltier and the Arctic is colder and fresher, so the density is probably not too different there (salty water is denser than fresh water, and colder water is denser than warm water).

  3. Bryan Martinez says:

    What is the similarity between both Mediterranean water and the Arctic water flows? And what can oceanographers conclude from the data they have collected?

    • lindsay says:

      Hi Bryan, the Mediterranean and the Arctic both have variations in their properties from place to place and depth to depth, but as a whole, the densities are about the same. Oceanographers, chemists, hydrologists, and more are all studying water samples from both places and others, to learn more details about currents, salinity, and chemical composition.

  4. Briana morales says:

    if you had to do a third model of the artic sea , what do you think it would be ?

    • lindsay says:

      Hi Briana, the scientists here have actually been modeling many parts of the climate system, so if they were to do more, it would be to improve the current models, add in more detailed parameters, or even look at a whole other part of the Arctic environment, and then see how that factored into their existing model. Because there are a lot of parameters, including ocean, atmosphere, ice, temperature, wind, currents, life, etc.

  5. Zayna Vincent says:

    what did you fo for your birthday?

    • lindsay says:

      Hi Zayna, everyone surprised me with a cake at dinner, and gave me a card with everyone’s signatures and some photos from the expedition. Then I also assisted in releasing the radiosonde weather balloon into the air, which takes measurements of the atmosphere. That was a birthday to remember!

  6. Lauren McCoy says:

    Is the temperature different in the artic sea?

    • lindsay says:

      Dear Lauren, it depends what you are comparing it to, but Arctic Ocean temperatures vary from place to place, and from depth to depth. This is because water currents with different properties and from other places move in and around the Arctic.

  7. Lauren McCoy says:

    If the temperautre is different, how different is it? (from the artic land)

    • lindsay says:

      Hi Lauren, it depends actually, because the term “arctic” could be referring to the ocean, or to the general meaning, which is any place with average temperatures below freezing. But temperatures from day to night in the summer only vary by a couple degrees. But in winter, temperatures can get down to -50°C, at the extreme!

  8. Jennifer Rivas says:

    Will sea levels rise if the North Pole ice cap continues to melt? &What is the size of the Arctic region and the Arctic Ocean?

    • lindsay says:

      Hi Jennifer, the Arctic sea ice will not itself contribute to sea level rise, because it is ice already sitting in the ocean. However, glacier ice melting off of land in the Arctic (Greenland for example, which is huge), as well as melting off of Antarctica, has been, and will continue to, contribute to sea level rise. This is because the ice is initially on land, and when it melts and moves into the ocean, it raises the sea level. (You can try this for yourself with a pan of ice water – when the ice is initially floating in the water, measure the height of the water before and after it melts. Now try putting ice on top of a block sitting in the same pan, and measure the height of the water before and after the ice melts and flows off the block into the water.) The size of the Arctic is harder to determine, because the Arctic Ocean is big enough, but the term “arctic” actually applies to any place with averaged annual temperatures below freezing. So parts of Canada, Alaska, and Russia are technically arctic.

  9. Yanelis Garcia says:

    Hey Lindsay! I was wondering what has been the hardest part of working in a team? Also, what have you discovered about how the modeled cyclone affects the sea-ice, when used as an input to a different model? This sounds extremely interesting and I would love to know. Thanks

    • lindsay says:

      Dear Yanelis, working on a team is really important in science, because you get everyone’s ideas and knowledge about different aspects, which help contribute to the bigger problem or project. I know some people onboard were not used to it as much, because they are used to being in control of their own work. But I heard from many people that the chance to work in these teams was really helpful to their projects. One of the cool things about modeling a cyclone is that you can adjust it by putting in different initial parameters. So if your model doesn’t match the real conditions of the real cyclone, you can make those adjustments in your model (or think about what other parameters you might also need to add in) and try again to see what happens.

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