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Our broad area of enquiry is the role of polar regions in the global energy and water cycles, and the atmospheric, oceanic and sea ice processes that determine that role. The primary importance of our investigation is to show how these polar processes relate to global climate.
The Barrow Observatory is a two-person manned station from which hundreds of measurements are made that are related to factors in the atmosphere that affect climate change and ozone depletion. In addition to a wide spectrum of NOAA programs, the Barrow Observatory is host to a dozen cooperative programs with other agencies and universities.
Research in the NOAA OAR Arctic Research Office Activities Supported by Base Funds in FY2000 Joint IARC/CIFAR Research In FY2000, the NOAA Arctic Research Office developed a partnership with the National Science Foundation and the International Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska to conduct a research program focused on climate variability and on persistent contaminants in the Arctic. This partnership resulted from a unique confluence of mutual interest and unexpected funding that NSF chose to obligate through NOAA because of NOAA's on-going joint programs at the University of Alaska. NSF anticipates establishing its own institutional arrangement with the University of Alaska in the future. The research initiated in FY2000 focused on 5 climate themes and 1 contaminant theme, with several specific topics associated with each: A. detection of contemporary climate change in the Arctic changes in sea ice role of shallow tundra lakes in climate comparison of Arctic warming in the 1920s and the present variability in the polar atmosphere dynamics of the Arctic Oscillation downscaling model output for Arctic change detection long-term climate trends in northern Alaska and adjacent Seas B. Arctic paleoclimate reconstructions drilling in the Bering land bridge Arctic treeline investigation Mt. Logan ice core test models to simulate millennial-scale variability C. Atmosphere-ice-land-ocean interactions and feedbacks impact of Arctic sea ice variability on the atmosphere model-based study of aerosol intrusions into the Arctic international intercomparison of Arctic regional climate models reconstruction of Arctic ocean circulation intercomparison of Arctic ocean models Arctic freshwater budget variation in the Arctic vortex role of Arctic ocean in climate variability Arctic Oscillation and variability of the upper ocean D. Arctic atmospheric chemistry assessment of UV variability in the Arctic Arctic UV, aerosol, and ozone aerosols in the Finnish Arctic inhomogeneities of the Arctic atmosphere aerosol-cloud interactions and feedbacks Arctic haze variability E. Impacts and consequences of global climate change on biota and ecosystems in the Arctic linking optical signals to functional changes in Arctic ecosystems marine ecosystem response to Arctic climate changes faunal succession in high Arctic ecosystems long-term biophysical observations in the Bering Sea cryoturbation-ecosystem interactions predicting carbon dioxide flux from soil organic matter F. Contaminant Sources, Transport, Pathways, Impacts using apex marine predators to monitor climate and contamination change trends in atmospheric deposition of contaminants assessment of data on persistent organic pollutants in the Arctic paleorecords of atmospheric deposition derived from peat bog cores toxicological effects of bio-accumulated pollutants Under these themes, 45 research projects were initiated that will continue into 2001. The support for these projects totals $8 million over two years, of which only $1 million comes from NOAA. This tremendous leverage cannot be expected to continue; however the Arctic Research Office will continue its interactions with the International Arctic Research Center and seek collaborative efforts whenever possible. Arctic Climate Impact Assessment The United States has agreed to lead the other seven Arctic countries to undertake an Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA). This assessment will culminate in 2002 with a peer-reviewed report on the state of knowledge of climate variability and change in the Arctic, a set of possible climate change scenarios, and an analysis of the impacts on ecosystems, infrastructure, and socio-economic systems that might result from the various climate change scenarios. NOAA and NSF will provide support in FY2000, with the ARO providing early support and leadership for planning the ACIA. Scientific Planning and Diversity The Arctic Research Office will support scientific planning, information dissemination, and NOAA's diversity goals through workshops and other activities. An international conference on Arctic Pollution, Biomarkers, and Human Health will be held in May, 2000. The conference is being organized by the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences, with co-sponsorship by NSF and the Arctic Research Office. Research planning activities are being supported that will lead to future program activities related to climate variability and change and to impacts from contamination of the Arctic. The Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH) is being planned on an interagency basis, with the Arctic Research Office providing input for NOAA. An Alaskan Contaminants Program (ACP) is under development, with leadership coming from organizations within the state of Alaska. To accelerate the flow of minorities into scientific fields of interest to NOAA, the Arctic Research Office will undertake an effort in conjunction with Alaskan Native organizations that will encourage young Native students to obtain degrees in scientific fields. Outlook to FY2001 The Arctic Research Office will use resources available on FY2001 to begin implementation of the interagency Arctic climate science plan "Study of Environmental Arctic Change" (SEARCH). The NOAA/ARO role in SEARCH will involve long-term observations of the ocean, atmosphere and cryosphere, improved computer-based modeling of climate with an emphasis on the Arctic, and diagnostic analysis and assessment of climate data and information from the Arctic. Funds available in FY2001 will permit planning and limited prototype observation and modeling activities. The role of the NOAA/ARO in the Alaska Contaminants Program will become during the last half of FY2000, and some initial activities may be undertaken in FY2001. In addition, the NOAA/ARO will continue its partial sponsorship of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, being pursued on an international basis with the involvement of all 8 Arctic countries. It is anticipated that the ARO will provide support to experts to produce portions of the draft state-of-knowledge report during FY2001 and conduct one or more review workshops.
Our central geophysical objective is to determine how sea ice and the polar oceans respond to and influence the large-scale circulation of the atmosphere. Our primary technical objective is to determine how best to incorporate satellite measurements in an ice/ocean model.
To observe the temperature/salinity structure of the Arctic Ocean along cross-Arctic transects aboard U.S. nuclear submarines in the SCICEX program.
To develop a long-range (ca. 30-day) AUV to deploy under the Arctic pack ice to measure and monitor ocean variables.
The program provides logistics for ongoing research projects in Greenland, Alaska, and the Arctic Ocean. Logistics capabilities and platforms provided for research projects include: icebreakers, other ships, remote field camps, heavy-lift aircraft, and field stations (e.g. Toolik Field Station and Summit Greenland Station). The program also supports research projects at Long-Term Observatories and development of remote, autonomous instruments.
The project consists of two parts: the generation of a data set of sea ice extents and areas, and associated scientific analyses. The objective of the first part is to produce a 30-year, research quality sea ice data set for climate change studies. The data set will build on an existing 18-year data set derived from satellite passive-microwave observations and currently archived at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, CO. We will extend this data set by using historical data from the 1970's from the National Ice Center and new data from DMSP Special Sensor Microwave Imagers and the upcoming EOS-PM Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer. These data sets will be cross-calibrated to ensure a consistent 30-year data set following methods developed earlier and based on matching the geophysical parameters during periods of sensor overlap. The principal products will be Arctic and Antarctic sea ice extents and areas, derived from sea ice concentration maps. The second part of the proposal will center on the analysis and use of the 30-year data set. The science objectives are (1) to define and explain the hemispheric, regional, seasonal, and interannual variabilities and trends of the Arctic and Antarctic sea ice covers and (2) to understand any observed hemispheric asymmetries in global sea ice changes. Hemispheric sea ice cover asymmetries have been found in the existing 18-year record and have also been suggested from some model experiments simulating future conditions assuming a gradual increase in atmospheric CO2. We will examine the proposed 30-year record to determine the degree and nature of the hemispheric asymmetry in it and to place the sea ice observations in the context of other climate variables through comparisons with simulations from the NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory and Hadley Centre climate models.
Principal areas of activity are directed to: - observations of changes in the arctic system important to climate change, including the state of the atmosphere, ocean, sea ice and ecosystems; - studies of arctic system processes that may produce significant feedbacks tothe global system; - development of models based on process studies to predict the consequences of global change for the arctic environment and to predict the global consequences of changes occurring within the Arctic; - compilation of a record of past environmental variability; - coupling of paleoclimatic and modern observational records to improve quantitative reconstructions of past conditions for better evaluation of modeling results.
Observing the temperature structure of the Arctic Ocean along a transect from Franz Josef Land to ALERT, Canada, using acoustic tomography.
Investigators are currently measuring elemental gaseous mercury resulting from long range transport, and reactive gas mercury which is produced locally. Models have been developed for both elemental gaseous mercury surface concentrations and the reactive gaseous mercury species concentrations found to be functions of UVB input and mixing turbulence. Reactive gaseous mercury concentrations measured in springtime are the highest concentrations ever measured anywhere on the globe. Nighttime concentrations approach zero; daytime concentrations may be as high as 900 pg/m3. A manuscript is being submitted to Science.
High levels of ultraviolet (UV-B) radiation (280 to 320 nm wavelength) have been shown to be responsible for biologically harmful effects in both plants and animals. Atmospheric gases and suspended particulate matter (aerosols) absorb UV-B, the most important of which is stratospheric ozone. Because ozone in the stratosphere absorbs energy in the UV-B portion of the solar spectrum, any changes in the total amount of ozone affects the levels of UV-B reaching the ground. The potential for excessive stratospheric ozone loss in the Arctic makes the monitoring of actual variations in the billogically sensitive regions of the UV spectrum particularly important, especially since the Arctic supports a significant human population. In 1997 and 1998, with support from a new NOAA Arctic Research Initiative, NOAA deployed portable, ground-based UV instruments at three sites in Alaska: the CMDL Observatory in Barrow and the National Weather Service facilities in Nome and on St. Paul Island. Over the past decade, there has been a significant downward trend in Arctic ozone levels. Current predictions for future Arctic ozone levels indicate continued depletion for at least ten years and a very slow and possibly incomplete recovery. The observed changes in ozone in the Arctic have been accompanied by increased UV radiation, primarily in the spring. The potential for continued stratospheric ozone loss in the Arctic makes the monitoring of biologically damaging UV particularly important, since the Arctic is home to a human population and supports a variety of aquatic and terrestrial species.
Climate change studies
Research at the DoD’s U.S. Army Research Office (ARO) Activities Supported by Base Funds in FY2000 In FY2000, ARO has continued to sponsor extramural basic research directed towards the physics, mechanics, and dynamics of snow, ice, and frozen ground. This program does not support environmental change research directly, however many of the research results are applicable to a program like SEARCH. During FY00, SEARCH-related research efforts focus on: - Scale effects on the mechanical properties of fresh and saline ice, including compression and adhesion - Improving the fundamental understanding of subsurface flow, transport, and fate of contaminants in cold environments Outlook to FY2001 ARO will continue to support basic research that improves the understanding of snow, ice, and frozen ground properties and processes.
To understand and model the processes by which Arctic deep water is formed on continental shelves by the modification of inflowing Atlantic and Pacific waters.
To develop the next-generation Navy operational ice thickness and movement model.
Research at the DoD’s U.S. Army Corp of Engineers Engineering Research and Development Center - Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) Activities Supported by Base Funds in FY2000 In FY2000, CRREL has continued to receive direct funds for a basic and applied engineering research program designed to improve both military and civilian operations affected by cold weather. This program does not support environmental change research directly, however many of the research results are applicable to a program like SEARCH. Further, understanding that the effects of climate change may be especially pronounced in colder regions, a common thread in CRREL’s diverse research program is a consideration of the impact of climate variability on the results of an investigation. CRREL FY00 SEACRH-related research efforts include: - Environmental quality: site characterization, cleanup, and prevention - Physical, mechanical, and electromagnetic properties of snow, ice, and frozen ground - Atmospheric boundary layer processes - Impact of ice covers in port and harbors - Permafrost degradation Outlook to FY2001 CRREL will continue its cold regions basic and applied research program. Basic research will continue to focus on improving the understanding of snow, ice, and frozen ground properties and energy exchange processes. Likewise, the applied research will look towards initiating the transition of this knowledge base into products that can be used to meet the Army objectives. A primary area of interest will be in supporting the development of combat systems that are light weight, rapidly deployed, and environmentally robust.
Maintain oceanographic moorings in the Bering Strait to monitor heat and mass flux into the Arctic Ocean; moorings will be augmented by nutrient samplers in 2001.
To regularly deploy buoys in the Arctic to measure atmospheric temperature and pressure at various drifting sites.
The Program for Arctic Regional Climate Assessment (PARCA) was formally initiated in 1995 by combining into one coordinated program various investigations associated with efforts, started in 1991, to assess whether airborne laser altimetry could be applied to measure ice-sheet thickness changes. It has the prime goal of measuring and understanding the mass balance of the Greenland ice sheet, with a view to assessing its present and possible future impact on sea level. It includes: · Airborne laser-altimetry surveys along precise repeat tracks across all major ice drainage basins, in order to measure changes in ice-surface elevation. · Ice thickness measurements along the same flight lines. · Shallow ice cores at many locations to infer snow-accumulation rates and their spatial and interannual variability, recent climate history, and atmospheric chemistry. · Estimating snow-accumulation rates from atmospheric model diagnosis of precipitation rates from winds and moisture amounts given by European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) operational analyses. · Surface-based measurements of ice motion at 30-km intervals approximately along the 2000-m contour completely around the ice sheet, in order to calculate total ice discharge for comparison with total snow accumulation, and thus to infer the mass balance of most of the ice sheet. · Local measurements of ice thickness changes in shallow drill holes ("dh/dt" sites in Figure 1). · Investigations of individual glaciers and ice streams responsible for much of the outflow from the ice sheet. · Monitoring of surface characteristics of the ice sheet using satellite radar altimetry, Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), passive-microwave, scatterometer and visible and infrared data. · Investigations of surface energy balance and factors affecting snow accumulation and surface ablation. · Continuous monitoring of crustal motion using global positioning system (GPS) receivers at coastal sites.