NASA's ICESCAPE to study impacts of climate change on Arctic

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Washington, June 9 (ANI): NASA's first dedicated oceanographic field campaign kicks off June 15 to probe the effect of climate change on the Arctic.

The "Impacts of Climate on Ecosystems and Chemistry of the Arcticacific Environment" mission, or ICESCAPE, will look into the impacts of climate change on the ecology and biogeochemistry of the Chukchi and Beaufort seas.

A key focus is how changes in the Arctic may be altering the ocean's ability to absorb carbon from the atmosphere.

The Arctic Ocean, unlike other oceans, is almost completely landlocked, making it an ideal location to study ongoing climate changes in a marine ecosystem already heavily impacted by declining sea ice cover, ocean acidification, and an increase in incoming solar radiation.

These changes are likely to modify the physics, biogeochemistry, and ecology of this environment in ways that are not well understood.

Satellite remote sensing has provided some insight into these changes which ICESCAPE is designed to advance.

ICESCAPE chief scientist Kevin Arrigo of Stanford University, said: "The ocean ecosystem in the Arctic has changed dramatically in recent years, and it's changing much faster and much more than any other ocean in the world.

"Declining sea ice in the Arctic is certainly one reason for the change, but that's not the whole story. We need to find out, for example, where the nutrients are coming from that feed this growth if we are going to be able to predict what the future holds for this region."

ICESCAPE takes to sea onboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy, the US' newest and most technologically advanced polar icebreaker.

The Healy conducts a wide range of research activities, providing more than 4,200 square feet of scientific laboratory space.

It is designed to break four-and-a-half feet of ice continuously at three knots and operate in temperatures as low as 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Healy leaves Dutch Harbor in Alaska's Aleutian Islands on June 15 and heads to the Bering Strait where it begins ocean sampling.

The voyage continues across the southern Chukchi Sea and into the Beaufort Sea along northern Alaska's ocean shelf.

In early July the Healy will head north into deeper waters to sample thick, multi-year sea ice and take samples within and beneath the ice.

More than 40 scientists will spend five weeks at sea sampling the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of the ocean and sea ice.

A variety of instruments will be used onboard the Healy and deployed into the ocean and on the sea ice. (ANI)

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