This project will explore the relationship between deep-freeze bacterial activity, proteomics, polymers and the physical state of the ice and will provide important keys to questions regarding life under extreme conditions, be it in the various ice formations here on Earth, the atmosphere or elsewhere in the universe.

Watch PSC Scientist Mike Steele at the Polar Science Weekend:

The overarching goal of the MIZMAS project is to enhance our understanding of MIZ processes and interactions, and to strengthen our prediction capability of future climate change, particularly the changes in both the ITD and the FSD, in the CBS. We propose numerical investigations of the historical and contemporary changes in the sea ice and upper ocean of the CBSMIZ. We also plan to investigate future changes of the CBSMIZ under global warming scenarios. These investigations involve new and potentially transformative theoretical and numerical work to develop, implement, and validate a new coupled ice–ocean Marginal Ice Zone Modeling and Assimilation System (MIZMAS) that will enhance the representation of the unique MIZ processes by incorporating a FSD and corresponding model improvements.

The observatory is staffed by an international research team that establishes a camp at the North Pole each spring to take the pulse of the Arctic Ocean and learn how the world’s northernmost sea helps regulate global climate.

The Arctic sea ice cover is undergoing tremendous change. There has been a pronounced decrease in the summer sea ice extent (Comiso et al., 2008; Serreze et al., 2007; Stroeve et al., 2007), an overall thinning of the ice, a lengthening of the summer melt season (Markus et al., 2009) and a fundamental shift to a primarily seasonal sea ice cover (Rigor and Wallace, 2004; Nghiem, et al. 2007, 2007; Maslanik et al., 2007, 2011). Some of the greatest changes have been observed in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, where there has been a substantial loss of summer ice.These changes…

The purpose of this project is to make oceanographic profile measurements as part of a larger multidisciplinary effort to track and understand the changing seasonal sea ice zone (SIZ) of the Beaufort and Chukchi seas. This is part of the overall Seasonal Ice Zone Reconnaissance Surveys (SIZRS) program at the Polar Science Center. SIZRS is motivated by the rapid decline in summer ice extent that has occurred in recent years. The SIZ is the region between maximum winter sea ice extent and minimum summer sea ice extent. As such, it contains the full range of positions of the marginal ice…

It is argued that today only Antarctica provides sufficiently analogous ice surfaces to the specialized ones that are thought to have occurred under a Snowball Earth scenario. A combination of field observations of cold snow-free sea ice, salt encrusted sea-ice surfaces and blue glacial ice, laboratory experiments and modeling will be carried out to test the viability of the Snowball Earth hypothesis.

This project will carry out quantitative assessment of the drivers, effects, and ramifications of the seasonal timing of sea ice melt onset and freeze initiation over the observational record and using earth system model projections of future climate.

This data set contains Arctic TOVS-derived Level-3 atmospheric parameters obtained using the physical-statistical retrieval method of Chedin et al. (1985, Improved Iteration Inversion Algorithm, 3I). The method has been improved for use in sea ice-covered areas (Francis 1994) and the data set has been designed to address the particular needs of the Polar research community. The data set represents the so called Path-P as designated by the TOVS Science Working Group. This research is part of the EOS Interdisciplinary Science (IDS) effort POLar Exchange at the Sea surface (POLES)  Funding for this project has been provided by the NOAA/NASA Pathfinder Program.

We propose a study of the historical, contemporary, and future changes of the Chukchi and Beaufort marine planktonic ecosystem in response to changes in the sea ice cover and the upper ocean physics. Our scientific objectives are to:1) Synthesize the historical evolution of the biology-ice-ocean system in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas from 1978 to the present through modeling and analyses of satellite and in situ observations; quantify and understand the large-scale changes that have occurred in the sea ice, upper ocean, and marine planktonic ecosystem over the shelves and the basin.2) Identify key linkages and interactions between the sea…

In this research project her team is examining the role that bacteria could play in polar atmospheric cloud formation and precipitation processes (on the general topic of bacteria in the atmosphere see: Biological Ice Nucleators.As Co-PI with Brian Swanson from the Laucks Foundation she is investigating whether polar bacteria can interact with ice surfaces via ice nucleation processes. It is known that heterotrophic bacteria play a key role in carbon cycling in polar regions, but little is known about how they interact with their geological material, the ice itself, be it sea-ice, lake ice, glacier ice or ice in the…

The Polar Science Center Hydrographic Climatology (PHC) merges the 1998 version of the World Ocean Atlas (Antonov et al., 1998; Boyer et al., 1998) with the regional Arctic Ocean Atlas (EWG, 1997; 1998) creating a global climatology for temperature and salinity that contains a good description of the Arctic Ocean and its environs.

Polar Science Weekend is four days of hands-on activities, live demonstrations and exhibits presented by scientists who work in some of the most remote and challenging places on earth.  Polar Science Weekend is supported by a generous grant from NASA.

The focus of this project is to synthesize existing studies and data relating to Arctic Ocean primary production and its changing physical controls such as light, nutrients, and stratification, and to use this synthesis to better understand how primary production varies in time and space and as a function of climate change.

Significant changes in arctic climate have been detected in recent years. One of the most striking changes is the decline of sea ice concurrent with changes in atmospheric circulation and increased surface air temperature.

PI: Jinlun ZhangTremendous amounts of in situ and satellite data have been collected for the eastern Bering sea since 2007 in the framework of the Bering Sea Ecosystem STudy (BEST) and the Bering Sea Integrated Ecosystem Research Program (BSIERP) funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the North Pacific Research Board. The rich collection of BEST-BSIERP observations and other sources of data provide an excellent opportunity for synthesis through modeling and data assimilation to improve understanding of changes in the physical forcings of the Bering ecosystem in response to climate change.This project will include the following three major goals.…

Clouds play a major role in the arctic surface energy balance controlling the growth and melt of sea ice. At the same time the processes involved in the formation, maintenance and dissipation of cloud cover over the Arctic Ocean are thought to be strongly influenced by the sea ice itself. This project will advance the understanding of this interaction and feedback by asking: What is the response of Arctic clouds to diminishing sea ice?

The response of Arctic sea ice to a warming climate includes decreases in extent, lower ice concentration, and reduced ice thickness. Summer melt seasons are lengthening with earlier melt onsets and later autumn freezeups. We believe this will likely lead to an increase in so-called “rotten ice” in the Arctic at the end of summer. This ice has experienced a long summer of melt, is fragile, difficult to work with, and has received little attention. Comprehensive information on its physical and microbiological properties does not exist. Our team is embarking on an ambitious field campaign in order to study this poorly-understood type of sea ice in the context of its microstructural properties and potential for habitability.

We propose to use data analysis and modeling to constrain the salt chemistry of the soil measured by Phoenix in the context of soil chemistry measured by the Viking Landers (VLs), Mars Pathfinder (MPF) and the two Mars Exploration Rovers (MERs).

We compare the observations of arctic sea ice thickness estimates from satellites with in situ observations – collected by submarine cruises and moorings under the sea ice, by direct measurement during field camps, by electromagnetic instruments flown over the sea ice, and by buoys drifting with the sea ice – to provide a careful assessment of our capabilities to monitor the thickness of sea ice.

The focus of this project is to work collaboratively with Dr. Donald Perovich (CRREL) in support of a NASA sponsored program, ICESCAPES. Bonnie Light will support this project by helping to characterize the morphological and optical properties of the sea ice cover through field measurements, radiative transfer modeling, and synthesis.

Project investigators aim to improve upon the existing seasonal ensemble forecasting system and use the system to predict sea ice conditions in the arctic and subarctic seas with lead times ranging from two weeks to three seasons.

The purpose of this project is coordination of the Seasonal Ice Zone Reconnaissance Surveys (SIZRS) program of repeated ocean, ice, and atmospheric measurements across the Beaufort-Chukchi sea seasonal sea ice zone (SIZ) utilizing US Coast Guard Arctic Domain Awareness (ADA) flights of opportunity. SIZRS, like the ONR Arctic and Global Prediction Program, is motivated by the rapid decline in summer ice extent that has occurred in recent years. The SIZ is the region between maximum winter sea ice extent and minimum summer sea ice extent. As such, it contains the full range of positions of the marginal ice zone (MIZ)…

Through this project, investigators will characterize the seasonal linkages between the land surface greenness and a suite of land, atmosphere, and ocean characteristics, focusing on the Beringia/ Beaufort Sea, where there have been strong positive increases in the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) over the past 25 years, and the west-central Arctic Eurasia region, where the NDVI trends have been slightly negative.

This project is motivated by recent findings showing the sensitivity of Arctic Ocean circulation to background deep-ocean diapycnal mixing. Mixing in the stratified ocean is related to internal wave energy, which tends to be low under the Arctic Ocean ice cover. Consequently, as ice cover declines background mixing may increase and, among other changes, bring more Atlantic Water heat to the surface to melt ice, a potentially important positive climate feedback. To understand the influence of background mixing and to improve models of the changing Arctic Ocean, we are taking advantage of the latest analysis techniques to examine existing internal…

There are two primary goals of this project: (1) determine whether relatively small Canadian Arctic rivers significantly contribute to the total volume of freshwater that drains through Davis Strait and (2) determine if they are chemically distinct from larger North American rivers such as the Mackenzie and Yukon Rivers.  To achieve these goals we have collected water samples from eight different rivers across Nunavut and the Northwest Territories to determine their geochemical signatures (e.g., d18O, total alkalinity, barium, Sr isotopes, major ions, and dissolved organic carbon).  The first year (2014) of field work is completed and chemical analyses of river samples are ongoing.  The second (2015) and third (2016) years of the project will involve a continuation of the river sampling efforts as well as extending sampling into the adjoining estuaries to assess changes across the salinity gradient.

Read more or go to the Project page

PSC research analyzes the future of supraglacial lakes on the Greenland Ice Sheet and how they will, or will not, contribute to global sea level over the coming decades.

SEARCH is an interagency effort to understand the nature, extent, and future development of the system-scale change presently seen in the Arctic. These changes are occuring across terrestrial, oceanic, atmospheric, and human systems.

Some of the greatest observed changes to the rapidly decreasing Arctic ice cover are occurring in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, where increased summer ice retreat has created a substantially increased seasonal ice zone. Increased absorption of solar radiation in newly formed areas of open water and the ice albedo feedback have contributed to this decline in the ice cover (Perovich et al., 2007, 2008, 2011). Furthermore, changes in ice type, thickness, ice age, and the timing of melt onset and freezeup may be accelerating this ice albedo feedback. Recent studies have demonstrated substantial increases in solar heat input to…

The Polar Science Center is entirely funded through grants and contracts from federal and state agencies and private foundations. If you would like to support our research, education, and outreach activities through a personal gift, please talk to us or you can make a donation online. Thank you for your consideration.

SHEBA is motivated by the large discrepancies among simulations by global climate models (GCMs) of the present and future climate in the arctic and by uncertainty about the impact of the arctic on climate change. These problems arise from an incomplete understanding of the physics of vertical energy exchange within the ocean/ice/atmosphere system. To address this problem, the SHEBA project is focused on enhancing understanding of the key processes that determine ice albedo feedback in the arctic pack ice and on a applying this knowledge to improve climate modeling.

Ian Joughin serves as Deputy PI on the GSFC CryoDyn Earth Ventures 2 project. He is developing science and measurement objectives for the mission. He is also evaluating whether the mission and instrument are consistent with these objectives and provides expert advice to guide the mission planning and utilization of the data.

The AOMIP science goals are to validate and improve Arctic Ocean models in a coordinated fashion and investigate variability of the Arctic Ocean and sea ice at seasonal to decadal time scales, and identify mechanisms responsible for the observed changes.

This part of the larger NASA ICESCAPE project examines the long-term, seasonal variability in phytoplankton abundance as a function of changes in sea ice cover, stratification, and temperature regimes measured in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas throughout the growing season.

PI: Mike Steele; Co-I Ron Lindsay, Axel Schweiger, Jinlun Zhang The main objective of this study is to determine the fate of solar energy absorbed by the arctic seas during summer, with a specific focus on its impact on the sea ice pack. Investigators further seek to understand the fate of this heat during the winter and even beyond to the following summer.

This project supports the design, development, and implementation of a component of an Arctic Ocean Observing System in the Switchyard region of the Arctic Ocean (north of Greenland and Nares Strait) that serves the scientific studies developed for the IPY (International Polar Year), SEARCH (Study of Environmental ARctic Change), and related programs.

Measurements of Arctic sea-ice thickness are critical to understanding the global climate system. One of the best sources of thickness data are upward looking sonar measurements of ice draft made by U.S. Navy submarines (draft is the submerged portion of floating sea ice, about 93% of the thickness).

PI: Mike Steele A 3D animation, “The Important Little Life of Dylan Diatom,” shows the plight of a diatom in the Arctic Ocean. This slice of Dylan’s life, sponsored by the National Science Foundation and animated by student Anna Czoski, shows middle school students the role of phytoplankton in the Arctic.

Hydrofracture events associated with lake drainages in Greenland create surface-to-bed conduits through which surface melt reaches the bed at rates ranging from that of summer-long melt-stream discharge to that of large, transient pulses during sudden lake drainages. While recent work suggests that enhanced seasonal lubrication may have less of a destabilizing effect on the Greenland Ice Sheet than once feared, the interaction between surface melt and ice flow remains poorly constrained and its influence is not well represented in current ice-sheet models. This project aims to contribute toward improving future sea-level rise assessments by achieving a firm, physically based understanding…

We are employing new remote sensing methods applied to multiple satellite data sets to measure the total discharge of ice from the grounded Antarctic Ice Sheet. This effort also will provide the most comprehensive mapping ever of the grounding line position, as well as ice thickness and velocity along and in the vicinity of the grounding line. These products are sensitive indicators of changes and will serve as benchmark data sets of the International Polar Year suitable for subsequent comparisons to identify and quantify future changes in the ice sheet.

The purpose of this project is to improve satellite retrievals of atmospheric temperature, humidity and clouds.  Retrievals are based on   the physical-statistical retrieval method of Chedin et al. (1985, Improved Iteration Inversion Algorithm, 3I). The method has been improved for use in sea ice-covered areas (Francis 1994) and the data set has been designed to address the particular needs of the Polar research community. The data set represents the so called Path-P as designated by the TOVS Science Working Group.

Read updates from the science team currently at ice station Barneo in the Arctic.

This project aims to measure the time history of summer warming and subsequent fall cooling of the seasonally open water areas of the Arctic Ocean. Investigators will focus on those areas with the greatest ice retreat i.e., the northern Beaufort, Chukchi, East Siberian, and Laptev seas. Their method will be to build up to 10 relatively inexpensive ocean thermistor string buoys per year, to be deployed in the seasonally ice-free regions of the Arctic Ocean. Arctic-ADOS buoy data will be provided to both the research and operational weather forecasting communities in near real time on the International Arctic Buoy Program (IABP) web site.

This project will investigate, through modeling and data assimilation, the historical evolution of the Antarctic sea ice–ocean system from 1979 to the present to enhance our understanding of the large-scale changes that have occurred in the sea ice and the upper ocean in response to changes in atmospheric circulation.

The overall objective of the proposed research is to collect detailed information about the thermal and physical state of the ice and ocean surface in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas over at least two complete summer melt seasons in order to better understand the physical processes that control the melt, to better represent them in numerical models, and to better predict the seasonal evolution of the ice cover. This will be done using Coast Guard Arctic Domain Awareness (ADA) flights based out of Kodiak, Alaska.

By developing new microscopy and imaging techniques that allowed for the investigation of sea-ice bacteria within ice without melting it, Karen Junge demonstrated in her PhD research (in collaboration with Jody Deming and Hajo Eicken) that surface associations to ice walls or particles within sea ice are essential for maintenance of activity to –20°C and that psychrophilic bacteria can still be motile to temperatures as low as –10°C moving at similar speeds as Escherichia coli at 37°C.Funding source: NSF, NAI (NASA Astrobiology Institute) through the University of Washington Astrobiology Program.Junge et al., 2001Junge et al., 2002Junge et al., 2003Junge et…