NSIDC scientists travel to Antarctica, Greenland, the Arctic Ocean, and the Arctic tundra to conduct field work in some of the harshest conditions on Earth. They drill ice cores, study the lay of the land beneath the Antarctic Ice Sheet, and explore first-hand how climate change is affecting the polar regions. Below, find information on ongoing expeditions and summaries of recent field work.
NSIDC scientist Shari Gearheard lives and works in Clyde River, Nunavut, in northern Canada. She studies Inuit knowledge of climate change and works to strengthen the connections between indigenous knowledge and scientific research. Shari's current projects include the Igliinit Project, which outfits Inuit hunters with specialized GPS units for recording wildlife and environmental observations, and the Siku-Inuit-Hila Project, which examines the relationships between people and changing sea ice.
This winter, NSIDC Lead Scientist Ted Scambos returned to the Larsen Ice Shelf in Antarctica to install cameras that will help scientists monitor the ice sheet. The trip is part of the NSF-funded LARISSA project, which started in 2009.
This summer, Tingjun Zhang and colleagues are drilling boreholes over the upper reaches of Heihe River basin, Qilian Mountains in western China. The objective of this drilling is to detect permafrost distribution, study impact of frozen ground on hydrological cycle, carbon exchange. The scientists will also study how climate change is affecting permafrost in the region. The drilling will be continued until mid August, 2011, and is supported by the Natural Science Foundation of China
This winter, NSIDC Lead Scientist Ted Scambos returned to Antarctica with the NSF-funded LARISSA project to repair and improve several of the weather and science stations that the team installed last winter. The measurement stations will help scientists record changes in glaciers and ice sheets.
Ted Scambos will travel to Antarctica to study the Larsen Ice Shelf system as part of the Larsen Ice Shelf System, Antarctica (LARISSA) Project. LARISSA is an NSF-funded project that will examine the biology, glaciology, geology, and oceanography of the Larsen Ice Shelf system. Since the 1970s, a number of Antarctic ice shelves have broken up. In 2002, a huge section of the Larsen Ice Shelf disintegrated in the largest such event ever recorded. This had a major impact on the region, in all aspects of the Earth system. The LARISSA project researchers hope to gain insight into the factors that lead to ice shelf collapse, as well as the environmental impact of such break-up events, which may become more frequent as climate change progresses.
Julienne Stroeve traveled to the Kangerlussuaq glacier in Greenland in August, 2009. Stroeve and Asa Rennermalm, a geographer from the University of California, Los Angeles, measured the amount of water being discharged from the Kangerlussuaq glacier in south western Greenland. The research may help elucidate how climate change is affecting the mass balance of the Greenland Ice Sheet.
Scientist Web page: Julienne Stroeve
In July 2009, Tingjun Zhang and Kevin Schaefer traveled to the North Slope of Alaska to study the carbon content in permafrost. Team members included Lin Liu, from CU Boulder and Tim Schaefer of Schaefer Tec Consultants, Chicago. The team drilled permafrost cores near Fairbanks and six cores in a transect from Prudhoe Bay to Toolik Lake.
The researchers are now working with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) in Boulder, Colorado to analyze the samples for carbon, ice, and mineral content. Permafrost contains a large amount of organic matter that has been frozen since the last ice age. If it thaws, the organic matter will decay, releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and contributing to global warming.
In June, 2009, Mark Serreze and Drew Slater traveled to northern Alaska as part of the SnowNet Project. The researchers sampled snow depth and water content using a variety of different methods including manual probing, lidar, snow pits, and snow cores. The researchers hope that the data will help them improve models of climate change in the Arctic. Matthew Sturm of CRREL led the project.
In November, 2008, NSIDC Lead Scientist Ted Scambos participated in the Norway-U.S. Scientific Traverse of East Antarctica. The team of scientists from the United States and Norway began their journey at the South Pole in November of 2008, and traveled about 1,000 miles to the Norwegian base at Troll Station. The year before, University of Colorado graduate student Atsuhiro Muto participated in the first leg of the traverse, which went from Troll Station to the South Pole.. The project mapped the ice sheet elevation and thickness in never-before-visited regions, extracted ice cores to look at the past 2000 years of climate, and investigated ongoing ice motion and climate change effects in East Antarctica.
Scientist Web pages: Ted Scambos
Project Web page: Norway-U.S. Scientific Traverse of East Antarctica
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