International Arctic Research Center
July 20th, 2011

East Siberian Arctic Shelf Expedition 2011

The following are assorted photos from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf Expedition 2011.

May 3rd, 2011

East Siberian Arctic Shelf Expedition 2011


Here is a general view of the FEBRAS-IARC camp built up for the drilling campaign accomplished from the fast ice in the Laptev Sea. Scientific and technical personal included 20 people. It includes two two-store baloks (mobile houses including living space and labs), heavy caterpiller, the drilling rig URB-4T mounted on second caterpiller, three heated tents (lab space), two cargo-slages with fuel and drilling equipment. The total cargo weight delivered by ILUSHIN-76 was about 30 tonns.

~ Natalia Shakhova and Igor Semiletov

April 14th, 2011

East Siberian Arctic Shelf Expedition 2011

The Arctic region contains a huge amount of organic carbon, referred to commonly as the “Arctic Carbon Hyper Pool,” within the Arctic Ocean sedimentary basin. The Russian Arctic shelf acts as an estuary of the Great Siberian Rivers. This area has the highest documented rates of coastal sedimentation with annual accumulation rates of about 10×106 t Corg year-, which approximately equals the amount of sediment accumulated over the entire pelagic zone of the World Ocean. Due to the specific features of sedimentation and lithogenesis in this area, much of this organic carbon survives decomposition, and is buried within seabed sediments. These sediments are annually (“offshore” permafrost) or seasonally frozen, representing a substantial reservoir of potentially labile organic carbon. Global warming in the Arctic region is predicted to be substantial, and possibly rapid, in next few decades. Upon permafrost melting, the old carbon stored therein will be reintroduced into the modern carbon biogeochemical cycle, possibly acting as a strong source of methane to the overlying water and potentially the atmosphere. Additionally, extremely large amounts of more ancient (Pleistocene) methane are trapped as gas hydrates within and beneath the permafrost.

The proposed work aims to elucidate the present and future methane flux potential of sediments and permafrost in regions of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf. As a result of global warming, seafloor permafrost along the East Siberian Arctic Shelf may experience a pronounced change in thermal regime. Increased temperature may affect permafrost in several ways, ultimately leading to its degradation and enhanced CH4 release. This international, interdisciplinary research team will determine the distribution and stability of permafrost on the East Siberian Arctic Shelf and evaluate this area as a methane source to the Arctic region.

Cores from eleven locations will be obtained using dry drilling techniques. Rates of biological methane production and consumption (oxidation) will be quantified in permafrost and sediments at in situ and elevated temperatures. Natural abundance stable carbon (13C and 14C) and hydrogen isotope measurements will be used to quantify the age and source of methane collected from different sites and depths. These data will be used as input to numerical models, which will be developed to describe the thermodynamic and biogeochemical aspects of permafrost methane dynamics. Using field data and modeling, the current and future potential release of methane from offshore permafrost will be determined and a methane budget for the East Siberian Arctic Shelf will be constructed.

~ Natalia Shakhova and Igor Semiletov

September 19th, 2008

ISSS-08 Update

Yesterday we finished our CTD stations at complex station Nu 131. A new field of dissolved methane hot spots has been found in the Laptev Sea. This methane anomaly was correlated with geophysical observations.

All the data confirm Natalia´s [Shakhova] previous conclusion that the sub-sea permafrost is not a non-permiable lid for deep methane leakage. This cruise extends the shallow shelf data set to the slope.

We are continuing to take measurement sets in the surface water and air.

~Igor Semiletov

September 16th, 2008

ISSS-08 Update

Yesterday we observed the northern lights for the first time during this cruise due to cloudy skies.

This morning we did the last station (N 121) in the East Siberian Sea and we entered the Laptev Sea via the Sannikov Strait.

The next activity is searching the methane seeps along the Yana River paleo valley northward as far as possible until we are hindered by the ice. We hope to be lucky in this methane exploration as we were in the last week at the Indigirka paleo valley. (see map below for locations)

~ Igor

View Larger Map

September 15th, 2008

ISSS-08 Update

Yesterday we tried to survey waters around Bennett Island where NOAA satellites detected some mushroom-like structures in the low troposphere earlier this year. We worked on our stations until the wind rose to 25 m per second. Then we had to cancel this survey, moving back to the Indigirka Paleo canyon to learn more about mechanisms for the dissolved methane anomaly formation that we found 5 days ago. After this methane survey is accomplished, we plan to steam westward, entering the Laptev Sea via Sannikov Strait. Then, we plan to conduct a methane survey in the Yana Paleovalley. We will then have data from complex biogeochemical transects along the Lena, Kolyma, Yana, and Indigirka paleo valleys.

Today is the first day of sunny weather we have had – a first in over 30 days at sea!

All the best,

September 15th, 2008

International Siberian Shelf Study 2008 (ISSS-08)

The motivation for the ISSS-08 was to alleviate the extreme scarcity of observational data on transport and processing of fresh water, heat, carbon, and sediment on the East Siberian Arctic Shelves (ESAS), composed of the Laptev, East-Siberian and the Russian part of Chukchi Sea, which is the most enigmatic and understudied part of the Arctic Ocean.

The ISSS-08 started from Archangel’sk, Russia on August 13th and visited Kirkenes, Norway for mobilization. Today, one month later, we would say that a complex sample and data collection program was already accomplished using two vessels by participants from 12 organizations in Russia, Sweden, USA, and UK.

The main vessel Yacob Smirniskyi traveled the entire length of the Siberian coast from Kirkenes to Herald Canyon, Chukchi Sea and back along the outer shelf. On September 26th, the Yacob Smirniskyi plans to arrive at Kirkenes and do a few additional micro-polygons in East Siberian Arctic Shelf. A side vessel, TB-0012, investigated in detail the Lena River and the eastern shallow Laptev Sea. The total number of complex stations is around two hundred. Continuous sea surface measurements, air-sea measurements/samplings, and greenhouse gas flux observations are also underway along the ship tracks.

At-sea findings included the discovery of several new areas of substantial methane seeps. We also recorded Pacific inflow through Long Strait and Herald Canyon and remnants of salty and cold bottom waters on the East Siberian shelf break.

The ISSS-08 cruise is a the major IPY ship-based program taking place along the entire Eurasian-Arctic continental shelf with combined biogeochemical and geophysical observations.

Igor Semiletov
Chief Scientist

October 14th, 2007

NABOS Field Season Concludes

see also:

view map

The NABOS cruise concluded on October 13th with their arrival in Kirkenes, Norway. Everyone is fine but they experienced heavy weather between Longyearbyen and Kirkenes. The second part of the cruise had to be canceled due to weather and sea ice conditions but they had a very successful cruise on the first part.

Check back in a few days for a new photo gallery showing the voyage.

October 10th, 2007

NABOS Update – Second Leg Cancelled

The ship left Longyearbyen this morning for Kirkenes, Norway. After assessing ice charts and weather reports in the mooring area, the decision was made to cancel the second part of the NABOS expedition and conclude operations in Kirkenes. They will be traveling through some rough weather on the way across the Barent’s Sea but forecasts suggest that it is will not be as bad as what they encountered previously. They expect to arrive in Kirkenes in 2-3 days.

October 9th, 2007

NABOS Update – Longyearbyen

The Viktor Buynitsky made it into port at Longyearbyen, Svalbard on October 9th. They are studying the ice conditions and weather forecasts to plan the best strategy for continuing the second half of the cruise.

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