Ocean Profile Measurements During the Seasonal Ice Zone Reconnaissance Surveys

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 zone (MIZ) where sea ice interacts with open water. Consequently, the increasing size and changing air-ice-ocean properties of the SIZ are absolutely central to recent reductions in Arctic sea ice extent. The changes in the interplay among the ice, atmosphere, and ocean require a systematic SIZ observational effort, covering up to interannual time-scales, in order to understand today’s Arctic sea ice cover. As we will show below, the role of the ocean in controlling SIZ ice conditions is clearly significant. Thus, ocean property profiles are key elements of the SIZRS measurement program, and we propose to provide repeated synoptic snapshots of ocean conditions across the Beaufort and Chukchi seas SIZ (BCSIZ) by launching Air eXpendable CTDs (AXCTD) and Air eXpendable Current Profilers (AXCP) during U.S. Coast Guard Arctic Domain Awareness (ADA) flights of opportunity.