By Marie DarlingJanuary 12, 2018
HANOVER, N.H. (Jan. 2, 2018)--Julie Parno with the U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in Hanover, New Hampshire, participated in a two-month polar science cruise aboard the icebreaker Nathaniel B. Palmer in support of the U.S. Antarctic Program Polynyas, Ice Production and Seasonal Evolution in the Ross Sea.
The objective of the science cruise was to observe the interaction between the air, sea and ice. The observations included sea ice, ocean, snow cover and atmospheric properties during rapid sea ice growth in the Ross Sea, the only place on earth experiencing such a phenomenon.
The National Science Foundation manages the U.S. Antarctic Program, and provides financial support to researchers along with the logistics to conduct sophisticated science in the most remote places on earth.
During the cruise, Parno was part of the ice geophysics team, who worked to catalog and characterize the evolution of the sea ice along the cruise track, and provided ground-truth data for remote sensing methods and model parameterization.
Parno's experiences are detailed in a blog, managed by Dr. Brice Loose, assistant professor of oceanography at The University of Rhode Island.
"I feel very lucky to be a part of this immense multi-project effort to better understand sea ice production in this area," reported Parno in her blog post. "Now let's just hope that the weather cooperates soon so we can get back out on the ice!"
"On our way to Terra Nova Bay, with clearer skies and less wind, we were able to get in two successful ice stations," wrote Parno on her blog post.
"I have been part of the collective effort to complete the ice physics station. At each station, we use a variety of techniques to map both the surface and underside of the sea ice with the goal of fully characterizing the ice. One of the main campaigns I am assisting with is a LiDAR survey, which provides us with the surface elevation over a two dimensional grid. For this, I got to step out onto the sea ice for the first time and I loved it!"
Prior to the cruise, Parno and fellow Antarctic Program scientists shared the details and goals of the trip with students. Parno visited Gordon Creek Elementary in Ballston Spa, New York, where she shared a slideshow and question and answer session on the Antarctic and polar science with the second graders. The students enjoyed trying on the extreme cold weather gear that is issued to program participants.
During the cruise, Parno kept in touch with the students through a letter providing a first-person observation of the ice thickness, conditions and wildlife.
"The cruise was a success," said Parno. "Field work in this extremely remote region of the world always presents challenges, but we were able to collect a significant amount of data that will help us better understand air-ice-ocean interactions and sea ice seasonal trends in Antarctica. I learned a ton about sea ice itself, the wide variety of instruments and methods used in studying sea ice, and the logistics of working off a boat in a challenging environment."
Read more about Parno's experience and that of her colleagues aboard the Nathaniel B. Palmer in their blog at http://geotracerkitchen.org/pipers/?page_id=18.