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Author Topic: R/V Sikuliaq - University of Alaska's ice capable research vessel  (Read 12048 times)

Jim Hunt

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« Last Edit: September 15, 2015, 07:22:39 PM by Jim Hunt »
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Jim Hunt

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Re: R/V Sikuliaq - University of Alaska ice capable research vessel
« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2015, 01:35:22 PM »
The video's of the Sikuliaq's current voyages don't seem to available on YouTube. Here's "First Glimpse of Ice" on Vimeo:



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Sikuliaq's crew gets its first look at arctic sea ice; a welcome sight after a week of stormy grey seas.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2015, 11:42:41 AM by Jim Hunt »
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Jim Hunt

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Re: R/V Sikuliaq - University of Alaska ice capable research vessel
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2015, 06:03:59 AM »
Another video from the ArcticMix team on board Sikuliaq;



This one has an article to go with it:

Anchoring an Arctic story down deep

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The research vessel Sikuliaq is a capable moving platform for our suite of custom ocean tools and her role is to take this technology all across the Beaufort Sea where it can best be put to use.  But a ship can’t be everywhere in the Arctic at the same time and so there are gaps, blind spots, but we can help fill those by deploying what ocean researchers call a mooring.

« Last Edit: September 24, 2015, 11:42:54 AM by Jim Hunt »
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Jim Hunt

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Re: R/V Sikuliaq - University of Alaska's ice capable research vessel
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2015, 10:57:52 PM »
The latest article from the team aboard Sikuliaq is very interesting:

Oceanographers Find Clues behind Arctic's Fourth-Lowest Sea-Ice Minimum


No video this time, but:

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Our instruments are seeing billows of turbulence that look just like a wave breaking on the beach, but much larger. As a result, heat is being mixed up towards the surface, and the remaining ice, at a remarkable rate.
 While we hypothesized this might be happening, we have been genuinely thunderstruck by how incredibly strong the turbulence is below the surface. This heat is likely playing a substantial role in the melting of the ice that we can see all around us, growing thinner every day, and our job now is to distinguish summer melting from longer-term change.
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Jim Hunt

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Re: R/V Sikuliaq - University of Alaska's ice capable research vessel
« Reply #4 on: September 22, 2015, 11:16:55 PM »
More on Arctic Ocean mixing from the ArcticMix team aboard Sikuliaq. Firstly a satellite phone interview with Chief Scientist Jennifer MacKinnon on KUAC FM:

http://fm.kuac.org/post/researchers-study-how-warm-subsurface-water-affects-accelerated-arctic-sea-ice-melt

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One of the funny things about the Arctic is that there’s a reservoir of heat beneath the surface here.

So the more the wind is blowing on the ocean, the more it’s mixing this heat upwards. Which is bringing warmer water to the surface at a pretty rapid rate, warming the surface and accelerating the rate at which this ice is melting.

There's also a video (on Vimeo but not YouTube) which also includes comments from Jennifer MacKinnon amongst others:

https://scripps.ucsd.edu/projects/arcticmix/video-the-mission/

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We're trying to understand mixing in a very important part of the world. I mean the ice is melting, and people aren't able to model very accurately why it is.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2015, 01:14:27 PM by Jim Hunt »
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A-Team

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Re: R/V Sikuliaq - University of Alaska's ice capable research vessel
« Reply #5 on: September 23, 2015, 12:06:00 PM »
Jim, you are quite right to call attention to this research -- what the Sikuliaq is doing out in the Beaufort is hugely important and has ominous implications for the ice pack future. Sikuliaq is an Inuit word for “young sea-ice that is safe to walk on”. Or not.

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According to the PI: “While we hypothesized this might be happening, we have been genuinely thunderstruck by how incredibly strong the turbulence is below the surface. This heat is likely playing a substantial role in the melting of the ice that we can see all around us, growing thinner every day, and our job now is to distinguish summer melting from longer term change.

Near-inertial internal waves (NIW) can propagate downwards into stratified water and break hundreds of meters or more below the surface. Crucially, mixing in this depth range can tap into the large heat reservoir of Atlantic-origin water. Increased turbulent heat fluxes up from this water mass could significantly warm the upper ocean and accelerate ice loss."
Basically the Arctic Ocean is deep and warm enough melt out its thin skin of ice a thousand times over. The issue is that stratification by density effectively isolates this heat from the ice cover; a thin layer of stagnant cold water under the ice can't do much melting and diffusive processes are very slow.

With a full ice cover, there has been no mechanism by which the water could be mixed.

However these days, the Beaufort area can have a lot of open water in summer and with it longer fetches for wind, so bigger waves and more of these small underwater circulatory cells which lead to the turbulent mixing that the physical oceanographers on the Sikuliaq are measuring.

This is yet another effect to be added to swells breaking up the ice, Ekman transport, and advection of waters through the Bering Strait or North Atlantic. It seems every time we turn around there is another runaway feedback chewing at the ice that was never considered in the models.

Their effect is not to be found in "Intro to Oceanography" but rather in advanced and unfamiliar wave physics. Langmuir cells (slowly counter-rotating shallow vortices aligned with the wind) and turbulence (exceeding the Reynolds number of smooth flow) have been around a while but after that it really gets technical ... spice anomalies along isopycnal displacements, quasi-geostrophic turbulence theory, and far worse. I'll look into this further and see what has a more  intuitive exposition.

Basics are well-explained at:
http://oceanworld.tamu.edu/resources/ocng_textbook/chapter08/chapter08_05.htm
https://www.sikuliaq.alaska.edu/track/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turbulence
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Langmuir_circulation

See also:
http://www-pord.ucsd.edu/~jen/research.html
http://scrippsscholars.ucsd.edu/awaterhouse/content/global-patterns-diapycnal-mixing-measurements-turbulent-dissipation-rate
« Last Edit: September 23, 2015, 06:26:09 PM by A-Team »

Jim Hunt

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Re: R/V Sikuliaq - University of Alaska's ice capable research vessel
« Reply #6 on: September 24, 2015, 11:53:45 AM »
The R/V Sikuliaq is currently wending her way through the Bering Strait,  I assume for a change of personnel in Nome prior to her next voyage:

http://www.apl.washington.edu/research/downloads/publications/tr_1306.pdf

That's a science plan entitled "Sea State and Boundary Layer Physics of the Emerging Arctic Ocean" which in the Sikuliaq section says:

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The cruise will be organized in a series of modules, each targeting specific processes from the science objectives and each emphasizing a subset of observational assets. Both shipboard (e.g., CTD casts) and autonomous measurements (e.g., wave buoys) will be employed during the cruise, often simultaneously. Mooring observations will supplement the cruise with long time series measurements.

Additional assets, such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for photographic mapping of FSD and wave breaking crest distributions, are under consideration and will likely be included. A remotely operated vehicle (ROV) may also be included.

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Re: R/V Sikuliaq - University of Alaska's ice capable research vessel
« Reply #7 on: September 24, 2015, 12:54:14 PM »
The link above is actually to the (nicely written) Sept 2013 science plan...what they actually did on the most recent leg was rather different. Note the lead scientist on the Sikuliaq cruise is not one of the authors and the instrumentation used to get the temperature turbulence graphics above is quite different, notably the battery pack device that can climb up and down a mooring to get a CTD time series without the casts.

FSD stands for floe size distribution. It's interesting to skip through the pdf with FSD as search term, eg smaller floes in winter mean more ice forming but in summer more melting. Both the FSD and MIZ (marginal ice zone) -- despite their importance -- fall through the cracks when simple-minded like extent, concentration or volume are used to describe the state of Arctic Ocean ice.

Jim Hunt

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Re: R/V Sikuliaq - University of Alaska's ice capable research vessel
« Reply #8 on: September 24, 2015, 02:04:13 PM »
The link above is actually to the (nicely written) Sept 2013 science plan...what they actually did on the most recent leg was rather different.

If the link works, here's the Sikuliaq's preliminary plan for 2015:

https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=forums&srcid=MTAzMjI3NTAxMTMwMjEzNjcwNTEBMDIwMDgzNTY4MzY0NjA2NjcyMTkBODV1UzNFdkZWeWNKATAuMQEBdjI

The chief scientist on the voyage due to finish on September 26th is Jennifer A. MacKinnon. The chief scientist on the voyage due to start on October 1st is James M. Thomson. Attached is the plan for that voyage, hot off the virtual presses. Note in particular the bit that says:

Quote
The cruise plan is driven by the detailed objectives laid out in the science plan (published in 2013 as APL technical report #1306), which is available at the project web page:  http://www.apl.uw.edu/project/project.php?id=arctic_sea_state .

An embedded live map shows positions of the ship and autonomous buoys: http://swiftserver.apl.washington.edu/map/
« Last Edit: September 27, 2015, 12:35:52 AM by Jim Hunt »
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Jim Hunt

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Re: R/V Sikuliaq - University of Alaska's ice capable research vessel
« Reply #9 on: September 27, 2015, 01:10:31 PM »
ResearchGate has just revealed to me a new paper on Langmuir turbulence:

Langmuir Turbulence and Surface Heating in the Ocean Surface Boundary Layer

Currently paywalled, but I have enquired [and swiftly received a copy]. However here is an earlier open access paper on the same theme:

A global perspective on Langmuir turbulence in the ocean surface boundary layer

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The turbulent mixing in thin ocean surface boundary layers (OSBL), which occupy the upper 100 m or so of the ocean, control the exchange of heat and trace gases between the atmosphere and ocean. Here we show that current parameterizations of this turbulent mixing lead to systematic and substantial errors in the depth of the OSBL in global climate models, which then leads to biases in sea surface temperature. One reason, we argue, is that current parameterizations are missing key surface-wave processes that force Langmuir turbulence that deepens the OSBL more rapidly than steady wind forcing.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2015, 01:13:38 PM by Jim Hunt »
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Jim Hunt

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Re: R/V Sikuliaq - University of Alaska's ice capable research vessel
« Reply #10 on: September 28, 2015, 01:12:08 PM »
Thanks to Bill Fothergill for pointing out that:

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The "mainstream meedja" also appear to be getting the word out as well...

Article at ... http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-34324439
Video at ... http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-34365416
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Jim Hunt

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Re: R/V Sikuliaq - University of Alaska's ice capable research vessel
« Reply #11 on: September 28, 2015, 04:18:39 PM »
The latest (and last?) blog article from the ArcticMix team reveals how they successfully recovered a  "mooring [which] stands 3452 meters tall in the middle of the Beaufort Sea":

Bringing it all home

It also presents some preliminary results extracted from the data acquired by the mooring:

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A team of graduate students and scientists swarm over the gigabytes of data filling the ships server and soon the first preliminary plots fill our computer screens.  The mooring has witnessed exactly the kind of wind generated internal waves we’ve been looking for.

One of the measurements captured on the undersea mooring is the velocity of currents through a wide range of ocean depths.  When these currents are displayed as a long series over time the clear signature of internal waves can be seen.  These beams of energy, generated by the storm that passed over the Beaufort Sea weeks earlier, descend into the deeper layers of the ocean where they can “break”, and as we observed elsewhere in the Arctic, heat can be mixed into surface waters a bit like hot coffee in cold cream.
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TerryM

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Re: R/V Sikuliaq - University of Alaska's ice capable research vessel
« Reply #12 on: September 28, 2015, 07:39:00 PM »
Jim
Always more to learn about.

Are these internal waves or the Langmuir waves such that they will cause problems in shallow seas, such as off the Siberian coast, or are they only prevalent in deeper regions. They obviously cause problems either way, but I always fear CH4 outbursts.
Thanks
Terry

Jim Hunt

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Re: R/V Sikuliaq - University of Alaska's ice capable research vessel
« Reply #13 on: February 01, 2016, 07:34:00 PM »
I just stumbled across this video on YouTube:



A drone flight over Arctic sea ice, with the R/V Sikuliaq visible in the background from time to time.
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Jim Hunt

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Re: R/V Sikuliaq - University of Alaska's ice capable research vessel
« Reply #14 on: March 11, 2016, 01:35:44 PM »
I've just stumbled upon this blog about the Sikuliaq's "waves in ice" cruise in October 2015

http://ciresblogs.colorado.edu/iceontheedge/

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We made some good measurements in cold winds blowing off the nearby ice as we moved from the open water to over the more established first-year ice in the Chukchi Sea. This more established first-year ice formed a few weeks ago. We saw the many faces of the Arctic Ocean surface, from open water with waves, to areas with waves and a few pancake ice areas, to more compact pancake ice, and finally into the more established first year ice, which itself is only 4-12 inches thick.
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Jim Hunt

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Re: R/V Sikuliaq - University of Alaska's ice capable research vessel
« Reply #15 on: September 15, 2016, 06:14:39 PM »
The Sikuliaq is back in the Beaufort Sea. Read all about her latest voyage here:

http://blogs.agu.org/geospace/category/sikuliaq/

Plus there's video! I doubt this will embed properly:

https://videopress.com/v/QNy1eGo1

so here's one about last year's cruise too:

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Jim Hunt

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Re: R/V Sikuliaq - University of Alaska's ice capable research vessel
« Reply #16 on: September 05, 2018, 01:54:12 PM »
R/V Sikuliaq is back in the Beaufort Sea once again:

https://www.sikuliaq.alaska.edu/track/

This time she's working on the Stratified Ocean Dynamics of the Arctic (SODA) project. Here's the mission plan:

http://www.apl.washington.edu/research/downloads/publications/tr_1601.pdf
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