Catlin Arctic Survey 2010: summary of research to date

Having spent over half their allotted time at the Ice Base, the scientists on the Catlin Arctic Survey 2010 are well on the way to gathering the data they need to determine the likely effects of increasing levels of atmospheric CO2 on the Arctic Ocean.

Laura Edwards, of Bangor University, who has been there since the start of the Survey, offered a brief summary of what’s been happening.

“Our satellite science site 2km west of camp is where we take our water samples to investigate the water chemistry, biology and underlying physical measurements (currents and temperature profiles). We’re also taking ice core samples and atmospheric studies to help with the determination of CO_2 flux through the sea ice.”

“We’ve had some very successful sampling days so far and we’re expecting to collect a really good set of data for the period we’re here.”

You can read more in her blog of her time at the camp to date, here

Fellow scientist Ceri Lewis has been delighted to find a wide variety of plankton in the waters, including copepods and pteropods.

“We’re running a series of experiments with the zooplankton we’ve uncovered during our plankton tows. Hopefully they’ll give us an idea how these species, which are a vital part of the marine food web, are likely to respond to increasing levels of greenhouse gas absorption by the cold Arctic seawater.”

The Explorer Team, who are gathering a complimentary set of data over a wider transect of the ocean, are also pleased with how things are going.

“Despite the tough conditions, and rapidly shifting ice, we’ve managed to collect a full complement of samples to date,” says expedition leader Ann Daniels. “We’re also pleased to report that the Yeti Box we’re using to keep the samples unfrozen, has been performing perfectly.”

This is an important factor. When seawater freezes it purges itself of its CO2 content, so keeping them from freezing is vital to maintaining their usefulness for scientific research. The first set of samples have now been successfully transported off the ice and now await analysis.

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