2014 Arctic Research

Students in the  Arctic Geophysics class spent 1 or 2 weeks in Barrow, Alaska, in early March, performing geophysical studies of the sea ice. This trip proved to be the most challenging and rewarding of all of the previous trips. The main challenge related to the widely-reported odd weather patterns in North America this year, including the piece of the “polar vortex” that broke from its normal near-polar location. While the central and northeastern US experience record cold and snow, the western US received record warmth and dryness. This included Barrow, which experienced an extremely-late setting-in of the shorefast sea ice on which our research was performed.

In previous years the ice had been well over 2 meters thick. But this year it was between 1.2-1.6 meters thick. This made for a great deal of difficulty for the OhmMapper capacitively coupled resistivity array that we always deploy. Even with our new, shorter (2.5 meter) dipole cables, Ohmy repeatedly lost signal, requiring serious troubleshooting from the group. After much frustration and work the data were obtained. The group coupled this with ground truth data from our ice drill, and “Whistler” the thermal sensor that recorded the temperature of the ice surface. The goal of this trip was to investigate a possible correlation between the surface temperature and the thickness of the ice.

Top image: Cameron Baumgardner pulls the OhmMapper while Luna Brett pushes the GPR cart with Whistler.

Middle: Corey Roadcap (red hat) and Cameron Baumgardner drill through the ice.

Bottom right: Sarah House stoops to keep the front OhmMapper dipole cable on the ice. It lost data every time that cable came off the extra-thin ice.

Jun 23, 2014
Dr. Rhett Herman