Tracking Ocean Changes in the Arctic Switchyard

Tracking Ocean Changes in the Arctic Switchyard
Date: April 28-May 18, 2012
Team: Bill Smethie, Ronny Friedrich, Dale Chayes, Richard Perry

Arctic ice is declining rapidly—a trend with enormous implications for global weather and climate. Freshwater pours into the Arctic Ocean from the ice sheets and glaciers, and sea ice over the ocean itself is declining. Ocean Channels and currents there act as a kind of switchyard, sending fresh water into the North Atlantic, and small changes here may have larger impacts on climate downstream. To understand these processes, scientists are landing in small aircraft on the floating sea ice, and drilling down to study the water and currents below. Lamont-Doherty researchers Bill Smethie, Ronny Friedrich, Dale Chayes and Richard Perry report on their work here.

Under Arctic Ice: Watch the Video

by | 5.24.2012 at 11:29am
Twin Otter, Arctic Switchyard

The video depicts the activities of the LDEO Switchyard field team, which deploys annually and uses ski-equipped aircraft to reach a series of sample sites between the North Pole and Ellesmere Island in Canada.

Final Days in Alert

by | 5.20.2012 at 2:35pm

Time is flying, bringing us to our final days in Alert. We were able to recover samples from 12 stations, which is a great success and the second most successful year on record. Thanks to everyone who made it happen: Dale, Richard and Dan who went out every possible day to collect samples; Al and []

A Walk against Cancer

by | 5.19.2012 at 2:44pm
Luminaries to honor loved ones.

Alert hosted the first northernmost cancer-fighting fundraising event “Relay for Life,” an event sponsored by the Canadian Cancer Society to celebrate cancer survivors, remember loved ones lost to cancer and fight back against all cancers. The 12-hour-walk was organized by Kristy Doyle, who lost her grandfather to cancer in 2010. Participants raised a whopping $7,580 and collectively []

A Visit to Crystal Mountain

by | 5.12.2012 at 4:52pm
Me on top of Crystal Mountain.

The weather has improved considerably and we were able to fly out today to collect more samples. Yesterday, some of us went to explore Crystal Mountain, a 900-foot peak about five miles from Alert that offers an excellent view of the surrounding landscape. Alert is a Canadian military station located in the far north region []

Ice cores…finally

by | 5.11.2012 at 4:41pm
Ben taking an ice-core

Today I got another chance to go out with team CASIMBO to drill ice-cores. The weather was beautiful with no wind, a few clouds, bright sunshine and a balmy temperature of about 5 degrees F. When I first saw sea ice near Alert a few years ago, I was very surprised. It wasn’t anything like []


by | 5.8.2012 at 5:42pm
Getting ready to get ice-cores toegther with the team CASIMBO.

The weather started to get increasingly worse yesterday, with a lot of clouds, low visibility and snow. That, of course, means that we couldn’t go out flying for two days. The forecast for the next 24 hours doesn’t look promising either. But as usual in the Arctic it’s better not to forecast — everything might change within hours.

Sampling Water at the North Pole

by | 5.7.2012 at 5:18pm

The 2012 field season started out better than we could hope for. The weather has been great for flying out onto the ice and sampling water from the Arctic ocean. We were able to get water samples from three stations, including one at the North Pole.

Albany to Alert

by | 5.6.2012 at 8:21pm
Me and the Greenland sled-dog.

On the way from Kangerlussuaq to Thule we fly along the coast of Greenland, over Baffin Bay, where the Arctic starts to show its icy face. For me, Greenland is fascinating for its mild temperatures, diverse wildlife in the south and breathtaking frozen state in the north. I also like the Danish pastries served in the airport cafeteria – it reminds me of home.

Switchyard 2012: Climate Change in the Arctic

by | 5.2.2012 at 8:09pm

Arctic summer sea ice is declining rapidly: a trend with enormous implications for global weather and climate. Now in its eighth year, the multi-year Arctic Switchyard project is tracking the Arctic seascape to distinguish the effects of natural climate variability from human-induced climate change. The University of Washington is leading the project. A) The Canadian []

Switchyard Project: A Very Successful Year

by | 5.23.2011 at 10:19am
Area of operation and sampled stations in 2011 by LDEO (red "o" symbols) and UW (pink "+" symbols). Open white circles show the LDEO stations that we would like to target every year.

The 2011 field season has been a very very successful year, in fact the most successful one we have ever had. The weather has been great, the equipment proved to be mostly reliable, the people have been great and the samples are plenty.