Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scripps Scientists Participate in Historic First Surface Vessel Voyage across Canada Basin

01.11.2005


Scientists aboard pioneering icebreaking ships investigate ocean conditions in unexplored region to better understand Arctic’s role in global climate change



Two ships taking part in a recently completed research voyage investigating the oceanography, marine geology, geophysics and ice cover of the Arctic Ocean have become the first surface vessels to traverse the Canada Basin, the ice-covered sea between Alaska and the North Pole.

The Swedish vessel Oden and the United States Coast Guard’s Healy, both icebreaking vessels outfitted for oceanographic research, completed the historic south-to-north trek in September as part of a recently concluded expedition to explore the marine environment in this unknown region.
Although the same area had been crossed by submarines, the central Arctic Ocean had been Earth’s least explored ocean area by surface ships due to its heavy concentration of floating sea ice, which in some areas spans more than 10 feet in thickness.



Jim Swift, a research oceanographer at UCSD’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography, participated in the voyage as leader of a five-person team on board Oden that analyzed ocean conditions in an effort to better understand the Arctic’s role in the earth’s ocean and climate system. Other scientists on board Oden and Healy hailed from Sweden, Finland, Canada, Germany, Norway and Denmark.

According to Swift, part of the reason the Canada Basin surface crossing could be attempted and achieved at this time is because the ice cover over much of the Arctic Ocean has thinned in recent decades, opening the door to surface ships.

"Some indications have shown that the ice volume in the Arctic Ocean has reduced nearly 40 percent since the time submarine transects began more than 40 years ago," said Swift, a scientist in the Physical Oceanography Research Division at Scripps. "There is some scientific debate about the actual percentage but there is no doubt of the thinning in many areas of the region."

Swift’s investigations aboard Oden, research funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation Office of Polar Programs, involved examinations of ocean properties to help evaluate recent changes in ocean climate and global change studies. Swift and his team measured the seawater’s temperature, salinity and chemical characteristics. Ultimately, the new data will aid assessments of climate change and be used to improve and test scientific models that describe the climate system.

In one example, the new information is already helping scientists decipher how warm water from the Gulf Stream and the Atlantic Ocean circulate in the Arctic Ocean basins. In a case of synergy between geological and oceanographic measurements, scientists using Healy’s multi-beam (wide scanning) sonar made maps of the ocean floor over a region of a central Arctic ocean ridge many expected to contain a gap enhancing interchange of deep waters between sub-basins of the Arctic Ocean. At the same time, the Oden science team determined which waters were actually being exchanged, thus partly settling a scientific debate about the deep circulation that underlies the other layers.

"The unique aspect of this cruise was the ability to capture first-time measurements of ocean water across a wide suite of parameters throughout the central Canada Basin," said Swift.

Among the research issues he is addressing, Swift is investigating an Arctic ocean warming signal that emerged in the 1990s in a layer of ocean water, roughly 650- to 2,625-feet deep (200 to 800 meters), and whether the warming is continuing in this decade. Early results from the Oden cruise indicate that the warming was a short-lived burst, or a "pulse," though water temperatures at that depth have not fully receded to pre-1990s measurements.

"Our measurements confirm other recent measurements in showing that the warming was a pulse event rather than a shift," said Swift. "All of the results from the Oden cruise will help tie various measurements together to help us see what the big picture looks like in the Arctic."

In addition to Swift’s research in physical and chemical oceanography, researchers from the international team onboard Oden and Healy included biologists investigating organic processes in snow and ice to help identify concentrations of ozone-decomposing compounds in the atmosphere. Other researchers obtained seafloor sediment cores for analysis while others used instruments to survey ocean depths and seismic data.

While ice thinning allowed the historic Canada Basin passage, the two vessels still encountered areas of extremely thick ice, forcing the ships to work in tandem to cut through the ice and forge a passage to the North Pole. Strategic route planning using satellite ice images and frequent helicopter ice reconnaissance aided the navigation. The Oden and Healy reached the North Pole at 9 a.m. (Alaska time) on Sept. 12.

The cruise marked the concluding leg of the Swedish 2005 Beringia Expedition, supported by the Swedish Polar Secretariat. Healy was supported largely by the U.S. National Science Foundation.

Other members of Swift’s team included Susan Becker (chemical specialist), Mary Johnson (data processing specialist), Erik Quiroz (chemistry and deck specialist), and Robert Palomares (electronics and deck specialist).

Mario Aguilera | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucsd.edu
http://scripps.ucsd.edu
http://scrippsnews.ucsd.edu

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Impacts of mass coral die-off on Indian Ocean reefs revealed
21.02.2017 | University of Exeter

nachricht How much biomass grows in the savannah?
16.02.2017 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Impacts of mass coral die-off on Indian Ocean reefs revealed

21.02.2017 | Earth Sciences

Novel breast tomosynthesis technique reduces screening recall rate

21.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Use your Voice – and Smart Homes will “LISTEN”

21.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>