WHOI researchers Kris Newhall, Rick
Krishfield and John Kemp assemble a tripod
to deploy the sensor beneath the ice.
Credit: Chris Linder /WHOI
Want to fathom the heat hidden within the cryosphere’s inland sea?
Then you must penetrate the North Pole itself.
Researchers from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution traveled this week to an ice station on the Arctic Ocean north of Alaska to begin eavesdropping on the mysterious, life-rich ocean layers beneath the floes.
The goal of this frigid game of peek-beneath-the-ice will be to deploy two instrument-packed buoys for an extraordinary trans-polar tour.
Over the next few weeks, WHOI Arctic research specialist Rick Krishfield and engineering assistant Kris Newhall will lead a team that will lodge the buoys in the ice — one at the North Pole (90 ° North) and the other two degrees south — and then leave them to drift for up to three years.
The task will be a big step toward monitoring the Arctic Ocean on a large scale, where a fleet of autonomous buoys will measure the marine world a half-mile deep and then use satellite phones to send daily reports to scientists snug and warm inside the labs far away.
The researchers want to find out “how the waters in the upper layers of the Arctic Ocean — which insulate surface ice from warmer, deeper waters — are changing from season to season and year to year as global climate fluctuates,” according to a WHOI news release posted on-line this week.