Dr. Kevin Arrigo is a Professor in the Department of Environmental Earth System Science at Stanford University. He is the Chief Scientist for NASA’s ICESCAPE (Impact of Climate change on the Eco-Systems and Chemistry of the Arctic Pacific Environment) mission this summer onboard U.S. Coast Guard Cutter HEALY.
Welcome to ICESCAPE! As Chief Scientist of this exciting NASA-funded oceanographic research program, I will be keeping you up to date on our scientific objectives and progress over the coming weeks. We have been, and will continue to be, studying the physics, biology, and chemistry of the Arctic Ocean (and its associated sea ice) and how these two unique ecosystems are responding to recent changes in climate.
This region of the world has undergone some of the largest alterations of any ocean on the planet in the last decade. A few of these changes include: about a 30% loss of sea ice cover, a dramatic reduction in sea ice thickness, and a 20% increase in the growth of phytoplankton (those single-celled plant-like specks that float near the ocean surface and provide the food for virtually the entire Arctic ecosystem). In addition, the many large rivers that pour into the Arctic Ocean during the spring and summer of each year are carrying with them an increasing amount of material released from melting permafrost, which are changing the color and the chemistry of its coastal waters.
ICESCAPE consists of about 50 scientists and 80 crew members living onboard the U.S. Coast Guard HEALY. There are about 11 different scientific fields represented in ICESCAPE and in the coming weeks, you will read about what each of these scientific teams do. You will also learn how, as a team, we will be striving to assemble a clearer picture of how the Arctic Ocean works and get a better handle on its possible vulnerabilities. I look forward to sharing our adventure with you!