From: Associated Press
Published June 19, 2006 12:00 AM

UAF Gets $1M to Study Sea Ice in Arctic

FAIRBANKS, Alaska — A team of scientists from the University of Alaska Fairbanks have received more than $1 million in federal grant money to study how sea ice affects the movement of water in the Arctic Ocean.


The study, to start next summer, will focus on how storm systems stir up ice on the upper ocean, drawing water from the warmer middle layers of the Arctic Ocean to the surface.


The middle sections of water in the Arctic Ocean are warmer than the surface, an unusual characteristic when compared to other oceans, said Harper Simmons an assistant research professor at the UAF International Arctic Research Center, who is collaborating with other scientists at the university.


That heat, if released, is enough to melt all of the sea ice in the Arctic, he said.


"The reason we are interested in this is there is a lot of heat in the Arctic Ocean," he said. "The motion that results from these storms may be important for stirring up the upper ocean and drawing heat out of the Arctic Ocean."


Sea ice is important to understanding climate change because its presence affects how much heat from the sun is reflected back into space, Simmons said.


Working from the Russian icebreaker Kapitan Dranitsyn, the team will install observational moorings at several locations in the Laptev Sea, off the northern coast of Siberia.


The buoys will be anchored to the ocean floor and float about 330 feet below the surface. They contain instruments that measure ocean current, salinity, sea-ice drift and temperature throughout the different depths of the ocean.


The grant is one of 25 awarded by the Department of Defense this year, through a program geared toward states that normally receive the smallest amounts of federal funding for university research. The program gave out $11.5 million to universities across the country.


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Information from: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com


Source: Associated Press


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