Thursday, June 10, 2010

NASA to Explore Arctic... By Sea, Not Space

Last year, a study using data from a NASA satellite showed that Arctic sea ice thinned dramatically between the winters of 2004 and 2008.

Now – a couple years later, in its first dedicated oceanographic field campaign, more than 40 NASA scientists are heading to the Arctic to further study the impact of climate change. Their five-week expedition, dubbed ICESCAPE (Impacts of Climate on Ecosystems and Chemistry of the Arctic Pacific Environment), kicks off next Tuesday (June 15) aboard a U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker, and will focus on how varying physical, chemical, and biological ice conditions affect the ecosystems in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. These Seas and the Arctic Ocean, unlike others, is almost completely landlocked, making it an ideal location to study ongoing climate changes in a marine ecosystem already heavily impacted by declining sea ice cover, ocean acidification, and an increase in incoming solar radiation.

NASA’s findings will ultimately help supplement the above-mentioned data that its satellites have for years collected on arctic ice (and ice-free) conditions.

A follow-up voyage is scheduled for the fall of 2011.