Day 2: Ice Morphology

On-ice fieldwork today was on ice morphology with Andy Mahoney and Chris Polashenski. The goal of the session was to see some of the different ice types off the shore of Barrow. For Camp participants, this station also known as “snowmachining.” After a brief orientation (e.g., where to find the throttle and brakes), we set off.

We travelled north towards Hajo’s ice mass balance station, which was set up in flat, shore-fast, first-year ice. The station tracks thermodynamic changes in ice mass balance.

To get an idea of the ice thickness, we drilled a few holes away from the station. The first hole we drilled yielded a depth of 85 cm. Only a few feet away, however, the ice was 57 cm. The enormous variability within such a short distance was surprising.

Heading north, we happened across a lone instrument standing sentinel on the ice surface. Upon closer inspection, we realized it was one of Ignatius’ buoys! The discovery warranted a short photo op. Jinlun left the instrument intact.

We continued to follow the whaling trail that the locals would take to the ice edge earlier in the whaling season. A few seals could be spotted in the distance, basking in the diffuse sunlight. We were on the lookout for multi-year ice. For those of us who hadn’t yet seen multi-year ice, we weren’t sure what to look for. After some time, Andy halted when we arrived at some brilliant blue melt ponds. We had arrived! At least, this is what we were told. We learned that the colour of the ponds and their positioning next to some egg carton-like hummocks were signs of a multi-year ice floe.

We pressed onwards along the old whaling trail until we came to a steep-ish ridge of broken ice. We parked the snow machines so that we could climb up on top we caught views of jumbled sea ice and, far off, the ice edge. The darkened cloud edge indicated open water. A few polar bear footprints halted us in our tracks.

Standing there, we admired the views and contemplated the ice rubble. Stretching out to the ice edge and running alongside the ridge, we saw broken ice, patches of blue, white, and gritty gray. How could this be studied? How could it be represented in sea ice models?

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