Science Feature: Norwegian Young Sea ICE Cruise

DRIFT PATH The RV Lance will freeze into the ice north of Nordaustlandet, Svalbard, and passively drift with the ice, likely in a SW direction. Map: Norwegian Polar Institute

- Contributed by Harald Steen, Norwegian Polar Institute

The Arctic Ocean is experiencing a dramatic sea ice loss, not just the area covered by ice but also sea ice volume. We are obviously heading towards a system that was dominated by ice cover throughout the year to seasonal ice cover. This will understandably lead to a change but exactly how the climate, and weather patterns and ecosystem are going to change is more uncertain. To better our prognosis of future change we need good and relevant data. At present we only have scattered data from the drift ice north of Svalbard on the seasonal variation in physical and biological parameters. To close this gap of knowledge the Norwegian Polar Institute will through the Norwegian Young sea ICE cruise (N-ICE2015) project provide a comprehensive dataset on metrology, oceanography, cryosphere, chemistry and the ecosystem.

In January 2015 the research vessel Lance will be frozen into the ice north of Svalbard, at 83.25°N 30°E, and will passively drift with the ice. Judging from historic sea ice drift trajectories, it is likely that RV Lance will drift in a SW direction. The actual drift trajectory and speed are impossible to predict, but the ship will probably be freed from the ice by the end of March. RV Lance will then return to her starting position and start a second drift. Under all circumstances, the ice drift project will end in late June.

The Primary objective is to understand the effects of the new thin, first year, sea ice regime in the Arctic on energy flux, ice dynamics and the ice associated ecosystem, and local and global climate. The experiment will help to (i) understand how available ocean heat is mixed upwards towards the sea ice and to what extent it influences the sea ice energy budget, (ii) understand the fate of solar radiation incident on the first-year sea ice in the region and how its fate is affected by properties of the atmosphere, snow, ice, and ocean, (iii) quantify the changing mass balance of Arctic sea ice and its snow cover, (iv) model and understand the dynamics of the drifting ice, (v) understand the ice associated ecosystem and model future changes, and (vi) understand the effects on local and global weather systems.

N-ICE2015 will give us a golden opportunity to do science in an area, and at a time of year, that has seldom been studied before. An endeavor such as this is impossible without collaboration from many national and international groups. Through this joint effort, N-ICE2015 intends to produce a new and comprehensive dataset on the new sea ice regime in the north, enabling us to meet the future well prepared.

Data collected during this project will help to support the many activities of the CliC Arctic Sea Ice Working Group, as well as the Sea Ice and Climate Modeling Forum and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate Grand Challenge efforts.

For more information on this project visit: or contact Harald Steen, the project leader.

The CliC International Project Office is hosted by the Norwegian Polar Institute.

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New Release of Fluctuations of Glaciers Database

The current version comprises reported observations on glacier changes up until the observation period 2011/12 including:
- 5,300 glaciological balances from 413 glaciers (partly including ELA, AAR, seasonal and elevation bin balances, and point observations),
- 920 geodetic balances from 446 glaciers,
- 44,000 front variations from 2,340 glaciers, and
- 420 special event reports from 295 glaciers.

For a detailed overview and quick data access, please use the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS) MetaData Browser:

All data and information is freely available for scientific and educational purposes. The use only requires correct citation of the WGMS and/or the original investigators and sponsoring agencies according to the available meta-information.

WGMS work relies on the cooperation and help of many scientists and observers throughout the world. WGMS highly appreciates their long lasting contribution in collaboration with National Correspondents, who are coordinating the annual data collection in more than 30 countries for submission to the WGMS. Special thanks go to Paul Leclercq (Univ. Oslo and Univ. Utrecht) and Graham Cogley (Trent Univ.) for supporting the integration of their datasets.

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Arctic sea ice helps remove CO2 from the atmosphere

(University of Southern Denmark) Climate change is a fact, and most of the warming is caused by human activity. The Arctic is now so warm that the extent of sea ice has decreased by about 30 percent in summer and in winter, sea ice is getting thinner. New research has shown that sea ice removes CO2 from the atmosphere. If Arctic sea ice is reduced, we may therefore be facing an increase of atmospheric concentration of CO2, researchers warn.

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Public domain GIS package “Quantarctica” version 2 is released

The Norwegian Polar Institute is pleased to announce the version 2 of “Quantarctica”, public-domain GIS package for Antarctica. Both the full package and the update-only package from version 1 are downloadable at:
if you want to learn Quantarctica in one minute, here is a YouTube video for the version 1.
Since its first release one year ago, there is a growing community of Quantarctica users. Quantarctica is a package of Antarctic continent-wide datasets optimized for the use on free GIS software QGIS. It currently includes ADD-based maps, continent-wide mosaics and high-resolution satellite imagery, and  glaciology/geophysics data; here is a list of data included in the package:

We use universal color to help people who have color vision deficiency. End users can modify the package freely; many people use it as the base of their own project GIS package.
The Quantarctica package includes QGIS software for Windows, but QGIS also supports MacOS X, Linux, and Android, and the distributed data package and project file are supposed to work on these platforms as well. We tested only on Windows, but heard from users that it works fine on MacOS X and Linux.
We appreciate all data contributors to Quantarctica. When you use Quantarctica, please look the meta data page (double click the layer, and go to the meta data tab), and appropriately cite the original reference of a specific dataset that you refer. And we are really happy if you mention Quantarctica in your publications/presentations.

For more information, please contact Kenichi Matsuoka.

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Information Request for Uses of CMIP5

- a request from our sponsor, WCRP, and their Working Group on Regional Climate

The WCRP Working Group on Regional Climate is soliciting input for a survey that examines past and potential future use of climate model outputs from the CMIP5 archive and related sources. The information collected will be made freely available and can be used to inform next steps in facilitating use of the CMIP5 archive and planning CMIP6 and other activities.

CMIP5 has provided an important source of information underlying both the WGI and WGII reports of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, as well as a much wider range of studies on physical climate science and vulnerability, impacts and adaptation (VIA) studies. While the physical climate science (WGI) community has been surveyed about CMIP5 as part of the preparations for CMIP6 (see, the VIA community has not yet had an opportunity to provide input. Thus we have designed this survey from the perspective of the VIA community in order to ensure that your voice is heard. It is being co-ordinated as part of the activities of the WCRP Working Group on Regional Climate (WGRC

We will produce a summary report of responses and will use our linkages into various working groups, workshops and other fora (including CMIP Panel and WCRP Working Group on Climate Modelling activities, and even some national activities), so that your views can be considered and discussed alongside those of other users. Your responses will also be very valuable for WGRC activities.

In order to feed into a number of activities happening in the autumn, we would like to receive your response by 30 September at the latest. If provided, your contact details will be kept confidential, and no individuals will be identifiable in the summary report.

This is the link to the survey:

We would like as many people as possible to undertake the survey, so please circulate it widely around your networks.

With many thanks for your help in what we consider to be an important endeavour, and best wishes from Clare Goodess, Linda Mearns, Richard Moss, Tim Carter, Bruce Hewitson, Kendra Gotangco and Roberta Boscolo


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With few data, Arctic carbon models lack consensus

As climate change grips the Arctic, how much carbon is leaving its thawing soil and adding to Earth's greenhouse effect? The question has long been debated by scientists. A new study conducted as part of NASA's Carbon in Arctic Reservoirs Vulnerability Experiment (CARVE) shows just how much work still needs to be done to reach a conclusion on this and other basic questions about the region where global warming is hitting hardest.

Continue ReadingWith few data, Arctic carbon models lack consensus

New Interdisciplinary Initiative to Study the Southern Ocean

A six-year, $21 million NSF-sponsored program to study the Southern Ocean and surrounding region was just launched. The SOCCOM (Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Modeling) project is housed at Princeton University and brings together investigators from 11 institutions to study the role of the Southern Ocean in climate change and biogeochemistry through observations and modeling. Another goal for the program is to cultivate new scientists and conduct outreach to disseminate the results and broader impact. Furthermore, SOCCOM is deploying Argo floats with biogeochemical sensors that will increase monthly measurements by 10-30 times in the region. Visit their website for more information:

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