Tag Archives: sea ice

Finding Endurance

Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance

A team of modern day adventurists and scientists used undersea drones to locate the famed Endurance. The ship was last seen 106 years ago.

Captained by Ernest Shackleton, the Endurance was caught in sea ice off the Antarctic Peninsula in 1915. The crew was forced to abandon the ship before it was crushed by the sea ice, and sank. Shackleton then led his crew on a miraculous 800 mile journey to safety.

The Endurance, caught in the sea ice off Antarctica; Photo by Frank Hurley, 1915

The Endurance was found approximately 4 miles from the position last taken by Shackleton, almost 10,000 feet below the surface of the Weddell Sea. The ship is “in a brilliant state of preservation”, which did not come as a surprise due to the cold water temps and lack of wood eating marine organisms. The name Endurance can clearly be seen on the stern, as well as a five pointed star, which dates back to when the vessel was known as Polaris.


Bering Ice

Graphic credit: ACCAP, UAF, NOAA

Bering Sea ice is at its highest level this late in the season since 2013. Which is good news for Alaska in 2022. Not only does the extended sea ice help out our wildlife, but it offers protection for communities like Nome from fierce winter storms.


“Ice Edge”

The Ikaaġvik Sikukun Story:

The reduction of sea ice off of Alaska’s coast is the subject of the new documentary “Ice Edge”. Iñupiaq residents of Kotzebue went to work with researchers at the University of Alaska – Fairbanks and Columbia University to document the changes, as well as look towards the future.

Seals are a vital component to the Native diet along Alaska’s northwest coast. The study finds that over the past 17 years, the seal hunting season has decreased at least one day, and sometimes more, each year, due to the change in sea ice.

The documentary can be watched on YouTube in its entirety. It is sectioned into 14 segments, to make it easier to watch a little at a time. On Thursday, one can join a viewing party and take part in a Q&A afterwards, on youtube, facebook, and other social media suspects. The live viewing party begins at 10am AST on Thursday January 27.


After the Ice: Our Land

Part II: “It’s heaven on earth.”

The second video from ARCUS on the loss of sea ice in the Arctic. It’s just under 7 minutes. This video highlights what the loss of sea ice is doing to the land where these villages are located.

The Eskimo Ninja, Nick Hanson, appears in Part II, and is quoted above.


After the Ice: Our Food

Part I:

The Arctic Research Consortium of the United States has put together a series of videos entitled After the Ice. The videos highlight the changes and the dangers to Alaska’s remote communities, that have relied on the sea ice for their livelihood and sense of community. The first video, which runs approximately 7-1/2 minutes, shows the extent that residents of remote Alaska rely on the sea ice for their source of food.

Much of Alaska, including many in communities like Fairbanks, live a subsistence lifestyle, relying on the land to provide sustenance. It’s a good series, on a population that few Outside even know exist.

Our garden is dying, is a line that cuts to ones heart.


Alaska Storm Surge

Color code depicts wind speed; Graphic credit: TropicalTidbits.com

A large storm is barreling into Western Alaska this week. Heavy rain and strong wind is expected. Gusts of 65-80 mph are possible.

Currently, the vast majority of Western Alaska is devoid of snow. The entire western coast has no sea ice. The ice would normally offer some protection from coastal erosion. The high winds will certainly set back any sea ice growth.

Gale force winds are expected to continue in the impacted areas through Wednesday.

That is one impressive system.


Pineapple Express

There was a time when I really enjoyed hearing terms like “Pineapple Express” and looked forward to a warm “Chinook” wind blowing through the area.

Now they comes with such frequency, that the deep freeze has replaced them as the rare events in the state.

A Pineapple Express came through Alaska over the weekend. Fairbanks saw rain and temps in the 40’sF. Our dusting of snow took a beating. The ice on The Pond has reverted back to slush.

Bethel on the western coast saw 53F on Sunday morning. The second highest temperature recorded this late in the year.

King Salmon reached 60F on Sunday, breaking their record for the warmest temperature this late in the year.

Not to be left out, McGrath in the Interior hit 50F, which tied their record set 7 years ago.

Utqiagvik on the Arctic Coast will see 38F on Monday, which will do absolutely nothing to help our utter lack of sea ice.

The times, they are a changing…


Arctic Research aboard the RV Polarstern

UTQIAGVIK, Alaska


Recent paths of Arctic ice floes; Source credit: Thomas Krumpen, Alfred Wegener Institute; Institute of Environmental Physics, University of Bremen

Researchers from around the globe have congregated on Alaska’s Arctic coast. They are planning a once in a generation expedition into the heart of one of the harshest environments on Earth: The Arctic.

It’s a 12 month, 17 nation, 300 scientist effort aboard the German ice breaker Polarstern, to document climate change in the Arctic. This coming autumn, the Polarstern will be positioned in a remote part of the Siberian Arctic, and then wait to be frozen in the ice. The research vessel will then flow with the floe; traveling with the ice as it moves across the Arctic Ocean.

Only twice has a transpolar drift happened successfully in history. Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen did it first in 1893. Ten years ago, a small sailing ship named the Tara also completed a transpolar drift without the sea ice crushing its hull.

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, the National Science Foundation and universities from Alaska-Fairbanks to Oregon State to Dartmouth are involved. Most northern nations are playing a role, as well. Russia, China and Sweden have all committed ships and aircraft for resupply support. Japan and Switzerland have developed new research equipment especially for the expedition.

Unlike Antarctica, there is no land at the north pole to build a permanent research station. The RV Polarstern is the next best thing. At any one time, 60 people will be living and working on the ice breaker. Resupply will take place every 60 days, weather permitting. Researchers will also be swapped out during resupply runs.


Graph credit: National Snow & Ice Data Center

Time is running short for a expedition like this one. The key is to find old sea ice, 4-5 years old, and get locked into that. Since 1980, 95% of Arctic sea ice that is 4+ years old, has been lost. In the graph above, the lightest yellow is 1 year old ice, the dark purple 5+ years old.

It should be an interesting study, although researchers on board the ice breaker from December to February will not see the sun. They should see polar bears, however.

#MOSAiC