Obsessed With Maps

    Our team spends significant time studying the most current satellite imagery available every day. Imagery comes from the US National Ice Center*, Sentinel, Landsat, IBCAO, RADARSAT*, and is made available to view in various file types that we can open in ArcGIS and Google Earth. We are studying the position, age, and character of the sea ice through these maps so that we can find ideal locations to deploy buoys. We also have to account for how far the helicopter pilots can and are comfortable flying as well as how far of a range (roundtrip) we can go (amount of fuel). Through a partnership with the North Slope Borough Search and Rescue team, their pilots fly their helicopter for our team over the sea ice to deploy buoys more than 50 miles out from the coast.

    Team studying sea ice satellite imagery.
    Ignatius Rigor and Cy Keener studying sea ice satellite imagery (top pics and bottom left). Team sharing our desired flight plans with North Slope Borough Search and Rescue pilots for tomorrow's buoy deployment (bottom right).

    Our IABP team comes to Utqiaġvik at least a couple times a year to deploy buoys and maintain the buoy test site. Most years we are able to get far out on the sea ice from the beach on snow machines using the local whaling trails. This year, due to sustained high winds creating unrelenting snow drifts, the whaling teams have not yet cut the trails through the jagged sea ice very far off the coast to the edge of the lead (open water). So, we have not been able to get very far out to deploy new buoys via snow machine.

    The sustained high winds (approximately 25mph) for 24 hours a day for the last week or more, has caused the sea ice to shift significantly rather quickly. The maps we were studying last week are nearly obsolete for our mission as the sea ice has moved so much. You can see the movement from the past two weeks on this NASA World View animation.

    NASA WorldView imagery and animated visualization at https://go.nasa.gov/37a2c4r
    NASA WorldView imagery and animated visualization at https://go.nasa.gov/37a2c4r

    Maps upon maps of sea ice
    This map shows how the sea ice and a few buoys have moved in a westerly direction over the past week or so. The straight blue lines represent the movement from the southeast end of the line to the north west end of the line; the end of each line is on the same chunk of sea ice on two different maps superimposed on each other. The chunks of sea ice have moved approximately 65 miles in a very short amount of time. The squiggly lines represent individual buoys that were recently deployed by the US Navy ICEX 2022 mission.

    *RADARSAT-2 Data and Products MDA Geospatial Services Inc.(2020) - All Rights Reserved. RADARSAT is an official trademark of the Canadian Space Agency.

    Tomorrow's Plan

    Our team uses very high resolution map images from the various satellites and radar sources and stacks them (layers) on top of each other using ArcGIS and Google Earth tools to integrate all the data we have. Then, we can analyze the data (map images) to determine where we want to deploy buoys.

    Flight plan for buoy deployment
    This sea ice *RADARSAT image is the most current data (map) we have to use to determine our flight plan to deploy buoys tomorrow. Because the sea ice will move, these waypoints on the map are only approximate for now. The entire flight will be approximately 250 miles if things go as planned. *RADARSAT-2 Data and Products MDA Geospatial Services Inc.(2020) - All Rights Reserved. RADARSAT is an official trademark of the Canadian Space Agency.

    SAR Helicopter
    The North Slope Borough Search and Rescue Sikorsky S-92 helicopter we will be flying in tomorrow over the Arctic Ocean and landing on large chunks of sea ice. We toured the 'bird' in the hanger today.

    A Bit More About Sea Ice

    Sea Ice descriptions
    Landfast ice is distinguished from the drifting pack ice by its attachment to the land. A flaw lead of open water is sometimes present at the seaward edge of the landfast ice. When the pack ice pushes against the landfast ice edge, ice deformation often occurs and creates ridges within and along the boundary of the landfast ice. From https://arctic.noaa.gov/Report-Card/Report-Card-2018/ArtMID/7878/ArticleID/788/Landfast-Sea-Ice-in-a-Changing-Arctic

    Engage with IABP AK Spring 22 Deployment Expedition

    Navy Arctic Research Laboratory
    Weather Summary
    Cold blue sky clear day
    -6° F
    Wind Speed
    18 mph
    Wind Chill