DRAFT!! DRAFT!! DRAFT!!
Posted August 23, 2014
By Elizabeth Dobbins, Research Scientist, UAF
According to the August 19, 2014 edition of The National Snow and Ice Data Center's Sea Ice News, warm air was advected from the south over the Chukchi Sea in August, which led to rapid melting there. There is certainly a reduction of ice coverage in our study area compared to 2012 and 2013 (see figures below). Whereas in previous years we worried that ice would affect our cruise plans, this year it isn't a concern. However, while NSIDC does predict sea ice extent this year to be among the 10 lowest years, they do not expect a record setting low at the end of the melt season.
In early August, winds were generally strong and from the east, which opposes the usual current direction of the ACC along the Chukchi coast. The Wainwright drifters sped northwest for a day (as described in the Aug. 5 synopsis), but then loitered north of Point Barrow for at least a week. Some of them even re-entered the Chukchi Shelf area. The HFR data also show a current reversal over much of the shelf.
On approximately Aug. 18, the winds shifted and now orient toward the northwest. The ACC is now stronger, and drifters are resuming their trip north along the shelf break. The Point Hope drifter pack was traveling westward toward Russia, but now seems also to be going north into Herald Valley The Point Lay drifters are the least dispersed, and are now in the Central Channel. These two deployments seem poised to explore the pathways illustrated by our canonical figure of Chukchi Sea circulation
High Frequency Radar Activation
One of the benefits of maintaining the HFR installation at Cape Simpson is the ability to measure currents all around Point Barrow - an especially complex place because of the convergence of current systems there. For instance, on Aug. 23, there was an eddy over the shallow water of the western Beaufort Sea. This area has been described as a hotspot of bowhead whale feeding, and is of particular interest because of that.
- Two (probably three) Metbuoys have been deployed. However, the UAF Metbuoy is not sending data in real-time because of an instrument malfunction.
- 104 drifters have been deployed in 4 locations
- All 4 HFR sites are operational.
- The Marginal Ice Zone (MIZ) Program has instruments deployed in the Beaufort Sea which have drifted into approximately the same area as some of our drifters.
- Huge waves measured for first time in Arctic Ocean - One result of the University of Washington's research in the Arctic is the detection of large waves which were previously damped by sea ice.
- 22 August 2014 Happy Anniversary and Back to Barrow! - the recent field journal of Dr. Carin Ashjian who in currently in Barrow for the 10th year to study bowhead whales. She reports no sea ice and the coldest water in Barrow Canyon that they've seen in 10 years.