ICESCAPE Field Campaign Concludes
Posted on Jul 30, 2011 03:00:30 PM | Steve Cole
July 29, 2011
A tugboat helped the Healy dock in Seward, Alaska, on July 29, 2011. Credit: NASA/Kathryn Hansen
On July 29, 2011, The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy docked in Seward, Alaska, marking the end to the field component of NASA's ICESCAPE mission. The multidisciplinary group returns to their land-based labs to apply the data toward improving of space-based observations, and to finish piecing together the story of how sea ice and ocean systems impact Arctic ecology. Continue to follow the mission's news at nasa.gov.
Before heading to the Anchorage airport, a few scientists on board shared some parting thoughts about the ICESCAPE mission.
Scientists stretched their legs on land after disembarking from the Healy on July 29, 2011 after five weeks at sea. Credit: NASA/Kathryn Hansen
William Balch, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences:
The most interesting thing I learned during ICESCAPE was the phytoplankton community could be represented by so many major algal groups, like diatoms, dinoflagellates, coccolithophorids, silicoflagellates and picoplankton. One thing I will never forget about ICESCAPE will be walking over the desolate ice in the Beaufort Sea (a truly surreal landscape) with almost 2 miles of water below me!
Guangming Zheng, Scripps Institution of Oceanography:
One thing I will never forget about ICESCAPE was that people liked my version of "Hotel California" much more than I had expected; And they were nice enough to tell me they liked it!
Holly Kelly, Farragut High School:
I finally got to sail on the Healy after ten years being away from oceanographic related work, which completes the trifecta of sailing on both polar class ships - Sea and Star and now the Healy. It was a wonderful experience and the beauty was I could share things with friends and family in a timely fashion, since email was readily available. Ten years ago, it was NOT!!
Shanique Martin, Stanford University:
One thing I will never forget about ICESCAPE is my experience taking a melt pond core and during the process having my boots flooded with ice cold water but I still enjoyed every moment of it!
David Mayer, Clark University
One thing I will never forget about ICESCAPE is the crew of the USCGC
Healy. Everyone from the Captain down to the non-rated personnel
displayed a tremendous dedication to the science mission. The marine
science technicians had perhaps the most direct involvement with the
science team. They would do everything from acting as liaisons between
the science team and the crew to pitching in with science operations
on the ice. Members of the deck crew served as riggers and bear
watches to get our gear on and off the ice and make sure that we could
operate safely. Science operations were conducted around the clock
with many science team members working in 12 hour shifts. It was
always a huge boost to morale whenever a member of the galley crew
would stop by the main lab at 2:00AM carrying a tray of freshly baked
cookies. Occasionally science equipment would break down or become
damaged while working in the Arctic. Members of the EM shop were
always available to do what they could to help us repair instruments,
even going so far as to machine replacement parts for us. Members of
the engineering division performed at the highest level of
professionalism to keep the engines running, and the power on so that
we could reach our science stations and run our instruments. Captain
Havlik and the senior officers took a personal interest in science
operations and worked closely with members of the science team to
identify suitable locations for ice stations and small boat
activities. The science team is composed of many very smart and well-
respected researchers but ultimately the success of the 2011 ICESCAPE
mission was the result of the shared sense of duty between members of
the science team and the ship's crew.
Ship Position at 2011/07/29
Long: 149 25.615 W Lat: 60 7.113 N
Tales From ICESCAPE: The Final Countdown
Posted on Jul 29, 2011 05:43:10 AM | Steve Cole
July 28, 2011
Mustang suits are hung, boxes packed, and pagers turned in. Tomorrow we arrive in Seward, Alaska, and step foot on land again for the first time in 34 days. Here's a look at the ICESCAPE 2011 campaign by the numbers.
Days at sea: 34 (tomorrow, after docking in Seward, Alaska)
Days of science data collection: 26
On July 25, 2011, the final water samples of the ICESCAPE mission awaited analysis in the lab on board the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy.
Ocean stations: 173
Chlorophyll samples: 889
Casts of the CTD/rosette package:188
Bottles fired on the rosette: 1,626 (48,780 liters of water – most was returned to the ocean!)
Salinity samples from CTD/rosette: 924
Nutrient samples from the CTD/rosette: 949
Casts of optical instruments (PRR and IOP) from the Healy: 47 each
On the Ice
Ice stations: 9
Measurements of spectral albedo (the amount of light reflected from the ice): 95
Measurements of light transmission above and below the ice: 242 sets
Measurements of ice thickness with the electromagnetic inductance device: 2,411
Nutrients samples from melted ice cores: 359
Nutrient samples from under the ice (including melt ponds): 65
Small boat excursions: 15 (14 successful – one outing returned early due to leads in the ice closing in around the boat).
Swimming polar bears sighted at eye level: 1
FS3 Gary Arndt frequently made rounds around the ship with a plate of delicious warm cookies. Credit: NASA/Kathryn Hansen
4 3 (cribbage, basketball, ping pong and soccer)
Band practices: 5
Enchiladas rolled: more than 1,000
Pounds of pasta boiled: more than 500
Cookies baked: more than 3,000
Coffee drinks served in the ship's java hut: more than 300
Ship Position at 2011/07/29 02:39:20
Long: 152 55.015 W Lat: 56 48.921
Tech Tuesday: ICEPRO
Posted on Jul 27, 2011 02:55:53 AM | Steve Cole
July 26, 2011
> Watch the video
The scene in the video (above) might look like the surface of the moon, but the feature is actually the mottled underside of a melt pond on sea ice in the Arctic Ocean. Here's a look back at one of ICESCAPE's numerous tools that scientists used to probe the depths of this rarely observed environment.
Ice blocks some incoming light, but not all of it, and scientists want to know how much makes it through and is available for photosynthesis. To find out, Karen Frey, of Clark University, managed the ICEPRO and ICEPOD duo at the mission's nine ice stations. The instrument package provides profiles of optical properties below sea ice and melt ponds, a region hidden from view of satellites.
Frey lowered the ICEPRO below to pond to profile optical properties down to about 50 meters. Credit: NASA/Kathryn Hansen
The device has sensors that look up and down through the water column. The upward-looking sensor measures downwelling light, and the downward-looking sensor measures upwelling light. David Mayer, of Clark University, recorded the data with the click of a button on a laptop.
Meanwhile, a tripod or "ICEPOD" measures incoming light at the surface, so scientists can calculate the percent of total light transmitted through the ice.
From the surface to about 10 meters deep, water below a melt pond will "see" much more light than water below bare ice. By about 20 meters down, however, contributions have all mixed together and water below a pond will about the same amount of light as water below bare ice.
Ship Position at 2011/07/27 06:25:00
Long: 167 36.284 W Lat: 58 26.883 N
Photo of the Week: Mission Accomplished
Posted on Jul 26, 2011 03:19:25 AM | Steve Cole
July 25, 2011
ICESCAPE scientists claimed "mission accomplished" after collecting the mission's final water sample on July 24, 2011. The proclamation was hung in the Healy's onboard science lab, which is now being packed and prepared for arrival at port later this week in Seward, Alaska. Credit: NASA/Kathryn Hansen
Check out the full collection of photos from the ICESCAPE mission here.
Ship Position at 2011/07/26 04:55:40
Long: 168 26.837 W Lat: 63 55.508 N
Tales From ICESCAPE: The Final Cast
Posted on Jul 25, 2011 04:34:25 AM | Steve Cole
July 24, 2011
ICESCAPE scientists collected the mission's final water samples today, and started the long steam back to Seward, Alaska.
Mission scientists talk about ICESCAPE's last cast of the CTD/Rosette water sampler, and describe preparations to disembark after a five-week science expedition at sea. Credit: NASA/Kathryn Hansen
Arctic Natural History
Posted on Jul 24, 2011 06:29:40 AM | Steve Cole
July 23, 2011
Today's post deviates from the typical Saturday musings on the subject of Arctic history to explore the realm of natural history. What exactly is natural history (besides the chance to show off photos of flora and fauna collected during ICESCAPE?)
Limited sources available at sea suggest that Aristotle and other philosophers dabbled in natural history by analyzing the diversity of the natural world. A modern definition emphasizes the observational rather than experimental approach to studying plants and animals.
Even today with all of the fancy tools not available to Aristotle, there remains a benefit to simply observing, and the diversity we've seen is astounding. We have been wowed over sightings of charismatic megafauna -- the polar bear, whales and seals that always draw a crowd to the ship's bow.
At an evening science talk on Thursday we oohed and ahhed over microscopic aquatic creatures that bridge the animal and plant worlds, and got a close up look at some of the ocean's inhabitants producing some of the color we see from satellites in space.
Here's a quick armchair tour of Arctic natural history as viewed by ICESCAPE scientists with the longest lenses and sharpest microscopes.
Polar bear sightings were not uncommon during the ICESCAPE mission and this curious bear stopped just 100 yards from the ship to check us out. Credit: Karen Frey; A Grey whale showed off a fluke between dives to feed on the critters at the bottom of the ocean. Credit: Chris Polashenski
A curious Ringed seal swam among multiyear sea ice in front of the Healy (left), and a flock of Murres, a bird common in the Arctic, skimmed the surface of the Chukchi Sea. Credit: Chris Polashenski
As we head south again, the benthic community is becoming more diverse, and scientists today pulled up some benthic invertebrates including worms, sea cucumber and brittle stars. Credit: NASA/Kathryn Hansen
Greg Mitchell, of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, found out the hard way that the gelatinous blob that surfaced with a water sampler was actually a jellyfish (left). Credit: Elliot Weiss; Star-shaped silica structures called Dictyocha, seen here under William Balch's microscope, showed up in abundance deep below some of the mission's ice stations (right). Botanists think of it as a plant because it makes chlorophyll, while zoologists think of it as an animal because it propels itself with flagellum. Credit: William Balch/Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Science
Ship Position at 2011/07/24 10:23:50
Long: 161 59.320 W Lat: 71 43.659 N
Sound of the Week: Alarming Moments
Posted on Jul 22, 2011 09:17:04 AM | Steve Cole
July 22, 2011
Sounds from the lab and from ice stations area as ephemeral as sea ice in summer. One sound, however, will not soon be forgotten by any ICESCAPE scientist on board the Healy: the ship's alarms.
The sound (above) is a flood alarm that was broadcast earlier this week on the ship's loudspeakers. Scientists reported to the science lounge as crew responded to the incident and found just a small leaky pipe. The Healy was built to be minimally crewed, and the numerous sensitive sensors on board help keep watch and keep us safe.
Possibly the most memorable broadcast is the daily noontime test of the ship's alarms. From toxic gas and flight crash to ship's whistle, the memorable sounds will echo in our minds long after we have left the Healy.
The loudest broadcast, however, comes every Friday when the ship enters a training environment.
U.S. Coast Guard FS3 Zachary Young dressed down to respond to a report of "smoke" during training drills on July 22. As Coast Guard crew practice their craft, scientists on board do their best to stay out of the way.
Ship Position at 2011/07/23 02:52:50
Long: 156 54.612 W Lat: 71 18.521 N