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Dissemination - Arctic Climate Change,
Economy and Society




Key figures


WP6 leader

Nathalie Sennechael has a backgroung in Physical Oceanography (doctor of the University Pierre et Marie Curie (UPMC)  and is  scientist at the MNHN -National Museum of Natural History- in Paris. Recently she has been increasingly involved in outreach activities. She is the ACCESS webmaster.


 WP6 co-leader

Oystein Godoy has a background in meteorology and oceanography from University of Bergen. He has been working with remote sensing techniques at the Norwegian Meteorological Institute since 1994. In recent years he has been increasingly involved in data management activities e.g. for the EU project DAMOCLES and in operational data access during IPY.


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Information on:

 The current status of Arctic sea ice



Synopsis of the cruise:

During the summer of 2012 two SAMS scientists (Phil Hwang & Bernard Hagan) participated in a KOPRI-led Arctic campaign on-board the South Korean icebreaker Araon. This interdisciplinary and multinational research cruise included scientists from S. Korea, Japan, China, UK, and Germany.  Scientific areas of research included hydrological and geological survey, atmospheric observations, chemical oceanography, plankton ecology, biodiversity, ocean optics, and sea ice dynamics.  Our primary purpose was to deploy ACCESS and KOPRI sea ice mass balance buoys (IMBs) as part of our Workpackage 1 deliverables.  Other responsibilities also included the deployment of collaborative buoys (e.g. SATICE, CRREL), as well as to obtain sea ice and wave information during the cruise.


Click here to enlarge Figure 1.


In early August, near the start of the cruise, the ship encountered a strong storm. The centre pressure of the storm was reported to be as low as 964 hPa (NSIDC, 2012), the wind speed observed on the ship was about 30 knots or more. During this period we observed a rapid reduction of sea ice concentration in the vicinity of the storm.


This year the minimum sea ice extent in the Arctic broke all records.  The vulnerability of the Arctic ecosystem was clearly witnessed during this cruise when on September 1 the ship encountered a polar bear swimming in the ocean. The nearest land was more than 400 km to the south, and the nearest ice edge was more than 600 km to the north – nowhere to go except a very small isolated ice floe (Fig. 2).  The tag on the polar bear’s ears indicated that he had human contact.  He approached the ship three times, but finally went back to the floe and floated away – looking tired and hungry (Fig. 2). The fate of the bear is unknown, yet it is a dramatic realisation of the impact climate change can have on the Arctic ecosystem.


A total of eight IMBs (ACCESS and KOPRI) were deployed at different locations on the same ice floe on August 13th at 82° 3’N and 170° 44’E. The deployment site presented thin (1 m) smooth ice and thick (3 m) ridged or layered ice.  This ice was most-likely first-year ice.  This deployment will allow us to measure differential melt and growth rates at different ice types under the same oceanic and atmospheric forcings. So far the data showed alternations of warm and cold water temperatures, depending on the ice drift.  Interesting the warm water temperature was observed when the buoys drifted into an area where less sea ice concentration was observed, and thus more solar warming.  The data also revealed some indication of surface flooding and snow loading effects.




  • We observed that the massive storm of early August swept off sea ice in a couple of days, resulting in no sea ice as far as 80°N. Therefore we had to go north of 82°N to find the decent sea ice floe to deploy the buoys.
  • On the way we met a lonely polar bear who was swimming in the middle of no-where (nearest land was more than 400 km away and the ice edge was more 600km away). He looked tired and hungry. I found that the photo (Figure 2) I took may carry a message of record-minimum ice year of 2012!

Click here to enlarge Figure 2. 



The collaboration between SAMS and KOPRI has been very productive for both sides. Collaborative research papers are being written, and more are being planned in the future.  Our hope is that it continues for the foreseeable future and develops into a long-lasting relationship.


Phil Hwang and Jeremy Wilkinson

- 01/02/13