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Just Testing

This probably show my inexperience with the subject but here's my suggestion.

We already had a thread about micro-organisms forming small colonies on the ice. Take pictures: which organisms are there (can they be identified from microscopy images ?) or try to put a number on their density/activity (like a sperm count). Mark the gps coordinates for follow-ups.


This probaby won't be an issue for these early dates but is came up earlier on a loose thread and is something to be aware of:

More open water -> longer fetch -> bigger swells -> broken-up MYI ice floes -> perimeter melting -> even more open water -> ...

For a hair-raising account of flexural fracture, I can recommend "Fracture of summer perennial sea ice by ocean swell as a result of Arctic storms" by MG Asplin et al J Geophys Res 28 June 12.


After a futile search for multi-year ice, the intrepid crew of the CCGS Amundsen finally located a 10 km diameter floe of thickness 2-10 m west of the Queen Elizabeths and prepared to moor in early Sept 2009. Just as the team was deploying, a swell swept through, heaving the ship half a meter:

"The swell caused the vast multi-year ice floe nearest the Amundsen to ride up one side of the swell and fracture as it crested the wave peak, creating smaller ice floes of width approximately one half of the wavelength of the swell. In a matter of minutes from the initial onset of swell propagation, all ice floes in the region were fractured in this manner, yielding a new distribution of floes ranging from 100–150 m in diameter. A helicopter recorded this event in still photographs along its flight track [below].... the region of heaving multi-year sea ice cover was deemed unsafe to work on and the Amundsen sailed."

Where did the sneaker wave train come from? Increased fetch -- 1800 km -- across the open water of Arctic cyclones in East Siberian and Chukchi seas had generated large waves from a routine Arctic cyclone a day or two earlier. The heavily decayed ice margin did little to attenuate the large swells, allowing them to penetrate up to 350 km into the pack ice.

The physical strength of a sea ice floe is proportional to the square root of brine volume fraction (porosity) and weaker when warmer. Here deteriorated surrounding ice did little to attenuate the incoming swell. The after-effects of flexural fracture include 4.5x perimeter increase, exposing the edges of the ice to liquid water. Now the floes are melted from above, from below, and from the sides. At freeze-up, the resulting mosaic is a mixture of first-year and multi-year ice, more vulnerable to melt ponds the following summer.



Not sure I would want to come ashore here:

Loss of Multiyear Landfast Sea Ice from Yelverton Bay, Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, Canada
Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research v44 #2 May 2012
S. Pope, L Copland, D Mueller

free full text: http://instaar.metapress.com/content/9750613316223268/fulltext.pdf

"For much of the 20th century, multiyear landfast sea ice (MLSI) formed a permanent ice cover in Yelverton Bay, Ellesmere Island. This MLSI formed following the removal of ice shelf ice from Yelverton Bay in the early 1900s, including the well-documented Ice Island T-3. The MLSI cover survived intact for 55-60 years until 2005, when >690 km2 (90%) of MLSI was lost from Yelverton Bay.

Further losses occurred in 2008, and the last of the Yelverton Bay MLSI was lost in August 2010. Ground penetrating radar (GPR) transects and ice cores taken in June 2009 provide the first detailed assessment of MLSI in Yelverton Inlet, and indeed the last assessment now that it has all been replaced with first-year ice.

A detailed history of ice shelf, glacier, and MLSI changes in Yelverton Bay since the early 1900s is presented using remotely sensed imagery (air photos, space-borne optical, and radar scenes) and ancillary evidence from in situ surveys. Recent changes in the floating ice cover here align with the broad-scale trend of long-term reductions in age and thickness of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean and Canadian Arctic Archipelago."



Here is a concept: crowdsource the purchase of one of these ultra-portable climate change gas analyzers and have floating deployment with whomever is out there, for example this Dutch team. Is not Tremoran stationed up in the frozen North as well? (Don't look at me, I over-winter in Tucson AZ, 82 F this week.) There could be quite a bit of under-ice methane released as its ice cap thaws.

Note the contrast in size -- briefcase vs room -- with the antiquated flask system used at Barrow. The sensitivity and lack of drift are amazing. Isotopes too. Anyone can be scientist these days!



Drilling for thickness is always handy. IceBridge made aerial measurements (via EM-bird) in the area between the NP and Ellesmere, see blog post.

But can't think of anything else right now. Maybe something with albedo? Perhaps Don Perovich needs data. :-)

Chris Reynolds

I think that intercomparing measured on the ground thickness and satellite/model measures will be useful.

However the least costly method, an auger, weighs and takes calories and time to use. Being unsupported calorie/time ratio, and time itself will be limited. I have wondered whether an ultrasonic unit would be of use. But will these be useable at seriously sub 0degC temperatures? And with the ice having fractures and discontinuities which would produce false echoes - the ideal solution would be to use a pinger and a scope - transmitting the scope data for analysis out of the field. The complexities may explain why Augers are still used - correct me if I'm wrong here.

I really think scientists may well be more interested than Bernice seems to think. I get the impression from the wording that the team haven't got in touch with a wide range of Arctic experts. If that's the case they may find that the scientists can provide suggestions as to what to do, as well as the sort of practical tips for dealing with the difficulties in the field, difficulties most of us here are not experienced to offer sound advice on. I for one have been no closer to the Arctic than my laptop.

Perhaps having a word with the Catlin Arctic Survey Team would be a good start. Not to ask for funding, but to ask for advice about what might be achievable at low cost and which scientists have encouraged their work and might be able to advise.

An amateur science must-have accessory - infra-red thermometer - detects backradiated long wave from clouds and changes in IR optical depth under clear sky. These factors affect the registered temperature when you point one up to the sky.

Chris Reynolds


Regards the LGA analysers - the fact that I can't find a price on these anywhere suggests they are prohibitively expensive. I'll hazard a guess - over £30k. You can easily pay that for a new spectrum analyser, and there's far more demand for such kit. PS - I can't find any LGA's second hand - another bad sign re initial price. In any case the operating temperature range (for air input) is -10 to 50degC. i.e. the bottom end is too high for the Arctic in Spring. Brochure.


How about some penetrometer readings. We are hearing so much about rotten ice some penetrometer readings could put some numbers to the rottenness.


Symmetry the last ice yields the last first expedition which is rowing the NW passage next year.

Hans Verbeek

We have already given up on space-exploration. We see that manned space-expeditions are just a waste of energy and resources.
Polar expeditions are becoming very expensive. We will soon realize that polar expeditions are also a waste of hydrocarbon fuel.
The title Last Ice Expedition may be a bit premature. But sooner or later mankind will stop travelling tot the Southpole. Peakoil is a bitch.

Chris Reynolds


That might be a great idea!

Something akin to an automatic centre punch (scaled up) might be easy to use, cheap to make, and could possibly be a rough way of determining first year vs multi year ice.

bernice notenboom

Thanks so much for responding so far everyone and love to see more suggestions. I also really like this idea of measuring the methane under the icecap if rookies like us can do this.Our resupply is around 86'3° from Resolute Bay to Eureka to our drop. We can have anything taken in during the resupply. Are there any scientists who want to join this flight for a few hours, meet with us, do own project and then fly back? You can contact me directly at: [email protected]

As far as the Catlin Survey, two of my teammates were on that team so we have access to their data.


Bernice, the value you bring that a satellite cannot is the detailed ground truth. Sky truth is great but it does have limits. If you look at Figure 2.4 of the Arctic Report Card , you will see the distribution of the multi year ice you mention. At this level the satellite maps it well. On the ground though what is the percentage of the cover that is multiyear? An along track survey where you chronicle simply using GPS the percentage of the distance that you are on ice that first year versus young multi year or old multi year or even ice shelf fragmentswould be quite useful. There is a big difference between 90% multiyear ice and 70% multiyear ice in its mobility and pattern of melt out.

Chris Reynolds

Mauri Pelto,

Have you any ideas as to how to identify FY vs MY ice in the field - would MY simply be in thicker blocks?


>"identify FY vs MY ice"

Even if it is easily identifiable, would the route taken on skis tend to go around MY and any ridging that can be avoided for a flatter FY ice surface leading to a biased reading of too little MY ice?

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