Now Archived! PolarConnect event with educator Sarah Johnson and the team working on the International Arctic Buoy Program in Utqiaġvik, Alaska. This event was broadcast on Tuesday, 5 April 2022. You can access this and other events on the PolarConnect Archives webpage.

Expedition Update:There will be a second deployment for this expedition to Thule, Greenland in late June or July 2022. Stay tuned!

What Are They Doing?

Land-fast sea ice is fastened along the shoreline in Utqiaġvik, Alaska.
Land-fast sea ice is fastened along the shoreline in Utqiaġvik, Alaska. Photo by John Wood.
The participants of the International Arctic Buoy Program (IABP) work together to maintain a network of drifting buoys in the Arctic Ocean to provide meteorological and oceanographic data for real-time operational requirements and research purposes including support to the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) and the World Weather Watch (WWW) Programme. Data from the IABP have many uses. For example: 1. Research in Arctic climate and climate change, 2. Forecasting weather and ice conditions, 3. Validation of satellites, 4. Forcing, validation and assimilation into numerical climate models, and 5. Tracking the source and fate of samples taken from the ice. Over 1000 publications have benefited from observations from the IABP.

Sarah and the team will be headed out for a second deployment to Thule, Greenland in June-July 2022.

Where Are They?

Bowhead whale skulls near the college entrance in Utqiaġvik, Alaska.
Bowhead whale skulls near the college entrance in Utqiaġvik, Alaska. Photo by Melissa Lau.
The team will fly by commercial airline to Utqiaġvik (formerly Barrow), Alaska. While in Utqiaġvik, they will travel around by snow machine along the sea ice to deploy the buoys.

Latest Journals

Following the Buoys We deployed the Arctic observing buoys on April 3, 2022 and since we have been watching their voyage westwardly between the Beaufort and Chukchi Sea. You too can follow the buoys we deployed north of Utqiaġvik, Alaska and access the weather and sea ice data they are reporting…
Sleeping More than Ever After nearly 20 hours of travel, I landed in Aspen, Colorado on April 8th. Then I took a 2 hour nap, woke up, slept for 11 hours and then did the same the following night, and could have done the same again yet had to get to work. This adventure all feels a bit surreal.…
My flight home was stupendous as the skies were clear and the flight path flew over spectacular landscapes. Window seats on flights are essential. Flight Home Collage; 1. Selfie leaving Barrow airport; 2. Brooks Range; 3-5. South of Brooks Range; 6-8. Denali National Park mountains and glaciers; 9…
Our time here went by so fast! We accomplished what we could to deploy buoys in spite of shifting sea ice, open leads, and only a few whaling trails completed (access to fast ice). I wanted to be fully present in this place, be part of the landscape, absorb as much as I could. And, I did; alongside…
Utqiaġvik, Alaska & Thule, Greenland
Project Funded Title
International Arctic Buoy Program
Sarah Johnson - Educator
Wild Rose Education

Sarah R. Johnson is a landscape-based environmental educator. As a freelance science educator she is focused on climate change, public lands, watershed science, civics, and geography, and teaching and learning through Wild Rose Education. She designs and facilitates educator professional development workshops, teaches public lands courses, and facilitates a southwestern US cohort of climate change educators. She also teaches graduate courses for Western Colorado University’s Teacher Institute. Sarah has created and facilitated numerous environmental education programs including the award winning Youth Water Leadership Program.

Sarah earned her MAEd: Natural Science and Environmental Education from Hamline University, St. Paul, MN, and holds a B.S. Biology from Missouri State University, Springfield, MO. Her graduate research involved case studies of science teacher professional development programs at biological field stations across the country. Sarah's background includes watershed education, outreach, facilitation, environmental education, wilderness trip leading, and interpretation. She, a leader in the field of EE, builds inclusive networks of colleagues committed to excellence. She currently serves as an eePro Group moderator for the Spirituality and EE Group as well as the Guidelines for Excellence in EE. Sarah also volunteers as a programmatic advisor for the World Association for Girl Guides and Girl Scouts Girl-led Action for Climate Change program in Latin American and the Caribbean.

She is excited to find ways to authentically relate the science and landscape study of the Arctic to the rural mountain communities of Colorado as well as back to her childhood home in rural southwest Missouri and to many other communities of friends and colleagues around the country and beyond. She has been based in western Colorado working to protect rivers and public lands through education since 2004 where she enjoys playing outside during all seasons, gardening, and making music. Learn more about Sarah at Wild Rose Education.

John Woods - Researcher
Office of Naval Research Global

John Woods is a native of Lavallette, NJ and currently resides in Annapolis, MD with his wife and 3 kids. He studied Oceanography at the United States Naval Academy and obtained his master’s degree in Oceanography and Meteorology at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA. John served on active duty in the U.S. Navy as a Surface Warfare Officer on the USS Cleveland (LPD-7) deploying to the Persian Gulf two times, and as a Meteorology and Oceanography (METOC) Officer at the U.S. Naval Ice Center. His final tour was back at the U.S. Naval Academy teaching in the Oceanography Department where he created the Polar Science Program. This assignment first introduced him to Polar Operations and Logistics leading 4 different learning activities to the Arctic Region. After transitioning to the Navy Reserves, he was the Project Manager for NASA's Operation IceBridge, successfully executing over a dozen science campaigns to both the Polar North and South. Most recently John was a physical scientist for NOAA at the U.S. National Ice Center until recently transitioning back to the Navy in his current position with the Office of Naval Research, International Engagement Office focusing on collaborations with polar nations.

Ignatius Rigor - Researcher
University of Washington

IGNATIUS RIGOR, Ph.D., is a climatologist at the Polar Science Center, Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), and an affiliate assistant professor in the School of Oceanography at the University of Washington (UW) in Seattle. Dr. Rigor studies sea ice, and how it interacts with the atmosphere and ocean. His primary tools for research are observations from drifting buoys and satellites.

International Arctic Buoy Program Resources

Sarah Johnson and the IABP team broadcast live from Utqiaġvik (formerly Barrow), Alaska on 5 April 2022. Sarah and the team discuss deploying buoys in the Arctic, what kind of data they are collecting and what it is like to live and work in the high Arctic in April.

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KBRW Top of the World Radio host Bob Thomson interviews International Arctic Buoy Programme Director Ignatius Rigor and PolarTREC Educator Sarah R Johnson on Friday, April 1, 2022 in Utqiagvik, Alaska during the morning news hour.

IABP team in KBRW Top of the World Radio studio with host Bob Thomas
IABP team in KBRW Top of the World Radio studio with host Bob Thomas. Photo by Sarah R Johnson

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Hey, You're Pretty Good at That | KDNK Community Radio On this episode of "Hey, You're Pretty Good at That" on KDNK Community Radio in Carbondale, Colorado Host Ape on the Dink chats with local environmental educator Sarah Johnson about polar adventures, environmental education, and her recent trip to Scotland.

Springfield Catholic Schools celebrated its alumni, Sarah Johnson for being selected as a 2020 PolarTREC educator. On Facebook, they shared a post celebrating the excitement in this expedition.

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