Project Time!

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

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

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.

Svetlana

Svetlana

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

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

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.

Irina L.

Irina L.

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.

Anna N.

Anna N.

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

Eric and Marie

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12 Responses to Project Time!

  1. manuel diaz says:

    PROJECT TIME-with the dipole conditions in the artic in maine: why on the russian side was there a low pressure system while in the canadian side there was a high pressure system? does this have anything to do with the winds or the ocean currents in the artic ocean?

    • lindsay says:

      Dear Manuel, that is one of the things that scientists are working on understanding right now. Those conditions definitely have to do with wind conditions, and weather systems, like the frequency and scale of storms. But there are so many variables, that scientists are making huge computer models to try to figure out more!

  2. manuel diaz says:

    what is the purpose of measuring cilica in water? other than finding it in the artic is there anywhere else that you can find this anywhere else? is there any positve outcome or thing that silica produces?

    • lindsay says:

      Hi Manuel, I talked with Anna and she said you can find silica in any water mass, and it is one of the characteristics that can help you differentiate between one water mass and another (like the Pacific or Atlantic water). Diatoms, which are microscopic organisms that are responsible for a large percentage of the world’s oxygen, could not survive without silica, so that’s pretty important!

  3. Sabrina Valladares says:

    What are moorings and CTD’s? Are they something chemical or are they readings of information?

    • lindsay says:

      Hi Sabrina, a mooring is when we lower an anchor down to the bottom of the ocean, with a cable that runs up almost all the way to the surface. There is floatation at the top to keep the cable vertical in the water, and scientific instruments all along the cable, to tell you about water properties and currents. The moorings are left there and retrieved a couple years later, so that’s a lot of data! CTD stands for conductivity, temperature, and depth, and is a set of devices that is lowered into the ocean at various points, and then raised up with water samples that we can run direct experiments on. If you do a search for moorings and CTDs on the blog, you can find lots of pictures and info! :)

  4. Fritzner Julien says:

    Do you guys, as different scientists compete (playfully of course) on which science is the best?

    • lindsay says:

      Dear Julien, of course! There are always friendly jokes about that, but we all know that we will only know the big picture of climate if we work together, so it’s all in good fun

  5. kaderrius smith says:

    on the expedition did all of you bond or get into conflicts

    • lindsay says:

      Hi Kaderrius, we all definitely bonded, which is kind of necessary in such close quarters as a ship. But I think there are also many new friendships and career/project collaborations that will come out of this!

  6. Luiggi Aranzales says:

    Hey Lindsay, i was just wondering do you guys use internet for all of the projects and experiments that you guys perform. I understand that you guys could have a modem but i’m just not sure.

    • lindsay says:

      Hi Luiggi, we have no internet access onboard, and our only email access is through a satellite connection. So we have to bring everything we need with us, and if we need something from a colleague at home, they have to send it by email. So it is difficult, because sometimes you want to double check something, and you can’t like you can at home!

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