Collaborative Arctic Expedition of IARC’s NABOS and Summer School Yields Excitement

Tue, 10/22/2013 - 10:09


by Yuri Bult-Ito

IARC Nansen and Amundsen Basin Observational System (NABOS) researchers and IARC Summer School participants recently returned from a month-long expedition aboard the Russian research vessel Akademik Fedorov in the Arctic Ocean. The joint Arctic expedition, sponsored and coordinated by NABOS with funding from the National Science Foundation, took place in August and September.

Every year since 2002, the NABOS researchers conducted expeditions in the Arctic Ocean, deploying buoys and moorings to record year-round observations that have since been used in oceanographic, atmospheric, ice, biological, and geochemical studies. This year’s expedition is significant in its “truly multidisciplinary nature with the most advanced technological methods of observations utilized by each scientific discipline,” notes NABOS project leader Igor Polyakov. In order to understand the relative role of factors that contribute to current Arctic sea ice reductions, “we need a new insight into the mechanisms responsible for redistribution of heat beneath the ice cover and its impact on bottom melt, and for transfer of oceanic heat from the ocean interior.” Polyakov believes that this type of needs calls for a multidisciplinary approach, “such as the one we had this year.”

The Summer School joined NABOS’s expedition this year, for the first time since 2006. A diverse group of participants from USA, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Norway, Russia, and Sweden, benefited from lectures, some of which were given by the NABOS researchers, on issues of ongoing climate change in the Arctic. The participants also benefited from hands-on experience in projects that ranged from field experiments to simulations of the great 2012 Arctic super cyclone with the regional Weather Research and Forecasting model. Summer School director Vladimir Alexeev points out the high level enthusiasm produced by the interactions the participants had with the NABOS scientists, including IARC’s Robert Rember and Andrey Pnyushkov.

The expedition was a true collaboration. The summer school “helped the instructors, students, and the NABOS members establish new professional contacts,” says Alexeev and it led to outcomes in some projects “that have a great potential for peer-reviewed articles.”

Expedition research crew deploys a deep-water mooring. This is an autonomous device moored to the seafloor and is used for long-term oceanic measurements. (Photo by A. Barthélemy)

Expedition research crew deploys an O-buoy, which measures chemical parameters in Arctic atmosphere. (Photo by I. Colfescu)

Research vessel Akademik Fedorov moves through thin ice. (Photo by T. Wolf)

Research vessel Akademik Fedorov in an ice opening. (Photo by I. Colfescu)

Members of the 2013 IARC NABOS and Summer School collaborative expedition. (Photo by I. Colfescu)