"Increased open water likely means more wind-driven mixing," Rainville said. "Similarly surface waves will be able to travel further in open water, gaining height and power. Once these waves meet the ice they contribute to breaking the ice edge."
The study's focus is the marginal ice zone, the region between the solid ice and the open water, which is just now beginning to form along the coast of northern Alaska and Canada. In March, when the ice was thick enough to land aircraft, researchers installed four groups of sensors on the ice in a line that stretched nearly 200 miles to the north. Each site includes instruments to measure the atmosphere, ice and ocean. The line is designed to continuously measure the moving target of the marginal ice zone, with southern instruments melting out and the northern ones taking their place. Ocean sensors that move up and down will measure conditions under the ice.
In late July, after the ice edge recedes to expose the first open water along Alaska's north coast, researchers will release four robotic gliders. These gliders, developed by the UW Applied Physics Laboratory, will navigate using GPS in open water and from acoustic beacons suspended from the ice when under ice. When a glider pops up to the surface, researchers can download the data and send new commands from shore for example, direct gliders to monitor the effects of a big incoming storm, or investigate a region that's melting quickly. Another instrument developed at the UW, the SWIFT float, will take precise measurements of surface waves.
Lee will join the Korean icebreaker in August to place a fifth set of instruments and to study how chemistry and temperature affect microscopic marine organisms living in the ice.
Meanwhile, a team from the University of Miami is taking high-resolution satellite pictures of the ice floes that researchers will combine with the other observations.'/>"/>
|Contact: Hannah Hickey|
University of Washington