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.
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.
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.
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.
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!