WASHINGTON, June 8 (UPI) — NASA says it will conduct its first dedicated oceanographic field campaign to determine how the changing climate is affecting the Arctic Ocean.
The project, called Icescape, begins next Tuesday aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy, the newest and most technologically advanced U.S. polar icebreaker.
NASA scientists said the Arctic Ocean, unlike other oceans, is almost completely landlocked, making it an ideal location to study ongoing climate changes in a marine ecosystem.
“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,” said Icescape chief scientist Kevin Arrigo of Stanford University.
The Healy will begin ocean sampling in the Bering Strait and then continue across the southern Chukchi Sea and into the Beaufort Sea, NASA said. In early July the Healy will head north into deeper waters to sample thick, multiyear sea ice and take samples within and beneath the ice.
The five-week, $10 million project will involve more than 40 scientists and include such instruments as an automated microscope taking continuous digital photographs of phytoplankton cells to determine the quantity of various species. Floats with near-real-time satellite communication will be placed in the ocean to measure temperature and various biological and optical properties.
The project is funded by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.
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