The Arctic Ice Dynamics Joint Experiment (AIDJEX)

Alan Gill in 1972

Scientist, Alan Gill, during the 1972 AIDJEX pilot study taking a measurement on the ice. Image Credit: National Snow & Ice Data Center.

The AIDJEX program was the first major western sea ice experiment constructed specifically to answer emerging questions about how sea ice moves and changes in response to the influence of ocean and atmosphere. A pilot study in 1972 was followed by the AIDJEX field program in 1975 and 1976.

Researchers maintained four manned camps on ice floes in the Beaufort Sea. The scientists collected meteorological and oceanographic data from instruments located at the camps and on floating data buoys. The experiment was designed to collect coordinated measurements over at least one year, in order to have the right combination of data for understanding atmosphere and ice interactions. The submarine USS Gurnardparticipated by collecting ice draft data from upward-looking acoustical soundings (sonar). Ice draft (the depth of the ice below the water surface) is an estimator of ice thickness.

The University of Washington led the logistics and research work of the program, which was a collaboration between the United States, Canada, and Japan. Norbert Untersteiner was instrumental in the design of AIDJEX and served as Project Director from 1971 to 1978. The Polar Science Center at the University of Washington maintains an AIDJEX electronic library. It includes downloadable copies of the contents of all 40 AIDJEX Bulletins, beginning in 1970 and ending in 1978.

A retrospective, AIDJEX Revisited: A Look Back at the U.S.-Canadian Arctic Ice Dynamics Joint Experiment 1970–78, by Norbert Untersteiner appears in the September 2007 issue of Arctic.

AIDJEX Data and Information

AIDJEX Main Experiment Patch

Cachet commemorating the AIDJEX Main Experiment. This image was prestamped on envelopes and taken to the camps for use in mail leaving the drifting stations. Image Credit: National Snow & Ice Data Center.

Data at NSIDC

Other Sources for AIDJEX Data and Information

Divers assembling current meters

The University of Washington boundary-layer studies used divers to assemble current-meter masts under the water and to map under-ice topography. Photo taken by Tom Marlar. Image Credit: National Snow & Ice Data Center.

AIDJEX People and Places

View gallery of selected photos

Held within the NSIDC Analog Archives collection are eighty-two 8" x 10" black and white and color photographs taken during the 1972 AIDJEX Pilot Study. The photographs were taken by Tom Marlar of CRREL, and also Pat Martin, who took aerial photographs of the camp on the ice. These images capture the participants, their research facilities, including the Convair 990 aircraft, and some of the activities performed during the pilot study. Originally housed in a three ring binder labeled "AIDJEX: People and Places," these photographs have been scanned and placed in archival photograph sleeves and an acid free box. You may view the original prints by visiting NSIDC.