Researchers from Woods Hole, Scripps oceanographic institutes sail on new Coast Guard ice breaker to study climate, ocean changes
A University of Massachusetts Amherst geoscientist is part of a team of researchers sailing the Bering and Chukchi seas this summer, searching for clues about the sea floor history and the land bridge that once existed between what is now Alaska and Russia. The team will also explore how the disappearance of the land bridge may have affected that regions climate. Julie Brigham-Grette and colleagues Lloyd Keigwin of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and Neal Driscoll of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography are conducting the research in two separate missions on the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy, an ice-breaking vessel. The project is funded by the National Science Foundations Office of Polar Programs and is the first coring program on the new ice breaker. The Healy is 420 feet long, or nearly 1.5 times the length of a football field and nearly eight stories high. This summer is the first official science cruise of the ice breaker in American waters.
The five-month mission of the USCGC Healy to the Bering and Chukchi Seas, which includes two other research projects, will mark one of the most comprehensive scientific deployments ever conducted by a Coast Guard icebreaker, said Brigham-Grette. The team is doing a high-tech, seismic mapping of the areas ocean floor and its shallow sediments, then taking core samples of the sediments. The science team recently returned from the Bering Sea but will reoccupy the ship Aug. 26-Sept. 17 for work in the Chukchi Sea.
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