ICEOP – Field Expedition in the Barents Sea, June 2021
Arctic Floating University 2021 has completed its voyage, having covered its planned route: Arkhangelsk – Novaya Zemlya (Malye Karmakuly Polar station, Cape Zhelaniya) – Franz Josef Land (Hayes Island, Hooker Island and Bell Island) – Arkhangelsk.
Its research agenda included the tasks pertaining to Ice Operations project, attained by the project’s NArFU team.
These tasks involved ice observations in the north-eastern sector of the Barents Sea, iceberg observations, and record of related meteorological information. The visual observation of the sea ice conditions was followed by geo-, photo- and video-recording of ice fields and weather analysis based on the data from the onboard weather station.
“Sea ice is a source of grave threat to mining platforms and shipping. Especially dangerous are icebergs, which tend to appear more often in the Barents Sea, and largest ice-free area of the Arctic basin, due to climate change. Despite the availability of advanced automated methods for classifying ice formations, we still cannot do without field observations as a proven way to see the actual occurrences of sea ice in the water area. With field observations, it is much easier to estimate the age and degradation of the ice formations,” comments Dmitry Kovalev, lead engineer at NArFU Higher School of Information Technologies and Automated Systems. “Sea ice was spotted from the Mikhail Somov research ship in the northern and north-eastern sectors of the Barents Sea. We also spotted a relatively large, table-shaped iceberg. Work is currently in process to validate the obtained data against the satellite images we have.”
“Given the increasing research interest in the Arctic region, the monitoring of the ice situation in the Barents Sea, which is the most accessible of all the seas of the Arctic Ocean, represents a highly relevant activity. By comparing the obtained data with the data from previous years, we will able to decide on the expediency of mining and shipping in the high-latitude part of the Barents Sea and, specifically, the northern part of the Novaya Zemlya archipelago and Franz Josef Land,”adds Lyudmila Drachkova, Head of the Department of Geography and Hydrometeorology. “The students who participated in this year Arctic Floating University have gained an invaluable experience conducting ice observations, analyzing long-term data and modeling the ice situation to forecast its progress”.
In addition, the participants have furnished information and videos intended for the academic course called Arctic Ice Conditions and Safety of Navigation, designed to raise awareness and disseminate the results of IceOps project. With intellectual and infrastructure resources available to scientists in Russia, Norway, Finland and Sweden, Ice Operations will have as its final deliverable the up-to-date database on ice loads likely to be experienced in the northern seas. Once in place, this database will be a helpful tool for more effective risk-based decision-making concerning the Arctic development and ways to make human presence in the Arctic safer.