ONR Researchers Explore a Changing Arctic

By David Smalley
Monday, April 14, 2014
Photo by Bill Shaw, Naval Postgraduate School

As sea ice continues to recede at a record pace in the Arctic, officials at the Office of Naval Research (ONR) on April 14 announced new efforts to determine the pace of change in what some are calling Earth's final frontier.

Scientists sponsored by ONR have traveled to the Beaufort Sea in the Arctic Ocean, placing new sensors in the ice and in the frigid waters below, to better understand the processes contributing to a dramatic decline in sea ice thickness and extent-and provide new tools to help the U.S. Navy predict conditions and operate in once-inaccessible waters.

"A changing Arctic means significant new responsibilities and opportunities for the scientific and research communities, the nation and our allies," said Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder, the chief of naval research. "ONR researchers, working in one of the world's most challenging environments, will give U.S. naval planners the essential data we need."

The effort, which includes partnership with the government of South Korea, involves aircraft and icebreakers to deploy sensors to compile and coordinate new data on rapidly changing conditions, particularly as it applies to the Marginal Ice Zone (MIZ), where ice and open ocean meet.

ONR scientists aim to assist Navy planners not only in short-range (zero-five days) but long-range (six or more months) timeframe predictions in these areas where the ice is located between solid pack ice and the sea.

"Where we have had ocean models and weather models, we clearly need new ice models as well," said Scott Harper, MIZ project manager for ONR. "We need better operational predictions-Sailors and ships are at risk without higher resolutions and shorter forecasts."

The effort to gain knowledge about new waterways in once-inaccessible regions supports a directive from Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert, who has made understanding changes in the Arctic a priority.

"The U.S. Navy recognizes that the opening of the Arctic Ocean has important national security implications as well as significant impacts on the U.S. Navy's required future capabilities," he noted in the U.S. Navy Arctic Roadmap 2014-2030. "Today, the observed changes in the Arctic Region climate and the reduced extent of summer sea ice reveal the potential for the Arctic Ocean to become a more viable route for international shipping over the coming decades."

The director of the Task Force Climate Change and Oceanographer of the Navy, Rear Adm. Jon White, emphasized the importance of the research.

"ONR's research focus is aligned with the Navy's Arctic Roadmap Implementation Plan, and will help us better understand and predict an environment that will still continue to present significant challenges for surface and air operations," said White. "While there is much preparation the Navy needs to do before it starts conducting routine operations in the Arctic, understanding the dynamic environment and the rate of change is a critical foundation for these future operations."

ONR's research into Arctic environmental conditions will focus on three major areas: sustained observation of the Arctic Ocean environment; better understanding frozen ocean processes; and developing computer models and prediction methods that look at how air, ice, ocean and waves will respond to climate change.

The five-year analysis of the MIZ will utilize a combination of some of the most advanced technologies, including ice mass balance buoys, wave buoys, ice-tethered profilers, autonomous gliders, ocean flux buoys, remote sensing and more.

ONR researchers say the detailed study will provide essential new data for the Navy.

"There's a lot more open water in the Arctic Ocean today, so there are significantly greater waves and swell," said Harper. "That didn't happen before, and we need to give Sailors every possible tool to operate safely in new environmental conditions."

David Smalley is a contractor for ONR Corporate Strategic Communications.

onr.navy.mil

Maritime Reporter August 2015 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Navy

Britain Pumps GBP500mln into Scottish Naval Base

The Royal Navy’s submarine base at Faslane – home to Britain’s nuclear deterrent – is to receive a more than 500 million pounds investment grant from the Government, reports Reuters.

Iranian Ship, Crew Escape Captivity off Somali Coast

An Iranian fishing vessel and its crew have escaped after being held captive for five months by Somali fishermen, maritime piracy experts said on Friday, but it

Migrant Boat Sinks off Libya; 200 Feared Dead

A boat packed with mainly African migrants bound for Italy sank off the Libyan coast on Thursday and officials said up to 200 might have died. A security official in the western town of Zuwara,

News

Obama Defends Arctic Oil Drilling

United States' President Barack Obama defends his decision to allow Royal Dutch Shell to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean.   He insisted that there was no contradiction

Optimistic on VLCC Market

Shipbroker Charles R. Weber is quite optimistic on the future prospects of the VLCC market for 2016 onwards.   The demand is expected to remain elevated with

Eni Finds Giant Egyptian Offshore Gas Field

The Italian energy major Eni SpA discovered a “super giant” natural gas field offshore Egypt in what the Italian oil company said is the largest find in the Mediterranean Sea.

Marine Science

World’s Quickest Trip Through Northern Sea Route

Chinese sailor Guo Chuan intends to make it world’s quickest Northern Sea Route trip from Murmansk to the Bering Strait in 14 days without engine power. His

Tropical Storm Erika Heads for Florida

Tropical Storm Erika lashed Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands with heavy rain and fierce winds on Friday, moving across the Caribbean and apparently heading for the Dominican Republic,

MHI, SBG Invest in Wind Energy Startup Altaeros Energies

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. ("MHI") and the Suhail Bahwan Group ("SBG") have invested in Altaeros Energies, a Massachusetts-based technology company, to

Arctic Operations

Obama Defends Arctic Oil Drilling

United States' President Barack Obama defends his decision to allow Royal Dutch Shell to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean.   He insisted that there was no contradiction

World’s Quickest Trip Through Northern Sea Route

Chinese sailor Guo Chuan intends to make it world’s quickest Northern Sea Route trip from Murmansk to the Bering Strait in 14 days without engine power. His

Wärtsilä Scrubbers for Finnlines Vessels

Finnlines, a Ro-Ro and passenger vessel operator with services in the North and Baltic Seas, has contracted Wärtsilä to supply three vessels with exhaust cleaning scrubber systems.

Ocean Observation

Eni Finds Giant Egyptian Offshore Gas Field

The Italian energy major Eni SpA discovered a “super giant” natural gas field offshore Egypt in what the Italian oil company said is the largest find in the Mediterranean Sea.

Tropical Storm Erika Heads for Florida

Tropical Storm Erika lashed Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands with heavy rain and fierce winds on Friday, moving across the Caribbean and apparently heading for the Dominican Republic,

Russian-Chinese Naval Drills End

The second phase of the Russian-Chinese Joint Sea-2015 naval maneuvers has officially ended outside the port of Vladivostok in Russia’s Far East, says spokesman

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Standards Naval Architecture Navigation Pipelines Pod Propulsion Port Authority Salvage Ship Simulators Sonar
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.6276 sec (2 req/sec)