@SEA

The Online Magazine of Sea Education Association

@SEA

The Online Magazine of Sea Education Association

North Pole Expedition

Five SEA Alumni Join Scientific Team in Research Voyage to North Pole

“There are all kinds of transitions happening, the region is shifting from all light to all dark, from summer melt to winter refreeze. On the way up, we observed the maximum extent of receding ice, then on the way back, we saw new ice forming all in a varying array of pastel colors caused by the sun being low on the horizon.”

By Doug Karlson | February 2023

This past fall, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy completed a 4,500-mile cruise from Dutch Harbor, Alaska to the North Pole to gather data for the Synoptic Arctic Survey (S.A.S.). It was just the second time a U.S. ship had arrived there unassisted by other vessels. Aboard Healy, one of two icebreakers operated by the United States, were nearly 100 crew and 34 scientists and technicians, and among those scientists and technicians were five alumni of Sea Education Association.

The Synoptic Arctic Survey is an international effort to collect physical, biological and carbon data from across the Arctic Circle from 2020 to 2022, and to detect ongoing climate change and its impact.

Led by Chief Scientist Carin Ashjian, W-57, the SEA contingent included Christina Goethel, S-238, Marcia Campbell S-272,  Genevieve Coblentz-Strong, a graduate of an SEA summer high school program , as well as Interim SEA President John Wigglesworth, W-5.

Campbell, a graduate student at UMass Dartmouth, served as a scientist and assisted in the collection of carbon data in the water column; Goethel is a post-doc research scientist at the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science and assisted in the collection and evaluation of organisms found in sediment samples collected at each station; Genevieve served as an undergraduate research assistant and measured the oxygen concentration of water samples collected by CTD casts deployed at every station on the cruise track.

This past fall, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy completed a 4,500-mile cruise from Dutch Harbor, Alaska to the North Pole to gather data for the Synoptic Arctic Survey (S.A.S.). It was just the second time a U.S. ship had arrived there unassisted by other vessels. Aboard Healy, one of two icebreakers operated by the United States, were nearly 100 crew and 34 scientists and technicians, and among those scientists and technicians were five alumni of Sea Education Association.

The Synoptic Arctic Survey is an international effort to collect physical, biological and carbon data from across the Arctic Circle from 2020 to 2022, and to detect ongoing climate change and its impact.

Led by Chief Scientist Carin Ashjian, W-57, the SEA contingent included Christina Goethel, S-238, Marcia Campbell S-272, Genevieve Coblentz-Strong, a graduate of an SEA summer high school program , as well as Interim SEA President John Wigglesworth, W-5.

Campbell, a graduate student at UMass Dartmouth, served as a scientist and assisted in the collection of carbon data in the water column; Goethel is a post-doc research scientist at the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science and assisted in the collection and evaluation of organisms found in sediment samples collected at each station; Genevieve served as an undergraduate research assistant and measured the oxygen concentration of water samples collected by CTD casts deployed at every station on the cruise track.

Wigglesworth served as a science technician for Asjian’s biology team. His primary role was responsibility for the deployment of the Video Plankton Recorder and helping with the deployment of a variety of plankton nets. Wigglesworth had many other responsibilities as well. He engaged in educational outreach with schools and was the shipboard coordinator for the Float Your Boat program [www.floatboat.org]. He also taught a celestial navigation class.

He also coordinated a program called Float the Boat. Students around the country received small wooden boats which they decorated. 300 such boats, each with an ID number, were brought to the North Pole and launched on the ice.  The fleet of small boats had a GPS tracker that allow students back home to track their position on the ice as the Arctic currents move them to open water.

420 feet long, Healy is 16,000 tons and has a diesel electric propulsion system capable of 30,000 horsepower. This enables the ship to break through four-and-a-half feet of ice at a continuous speed of three knots. The SEA alumni boarded the ship in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, on Sept. 2nd for the month-long voyage. In mid-September the ship got into the ice, and on Oct. 1st it arrived at the North Pole.

“We are excited to reach the Pole!” announced Ashjian, a scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Wigglesworth explained that the expedition was scientifically important because it replicated cruise tracks dating to the 1960s, allowing comparisons to data collected on those voyages as well as to data collected on the Healy’s SAS expedition in 2015.

“We have little information from the ocean and seafloor at the top of the world so what we collect here is very valuable. It also fills in data from a region, the western Central Arctic, which was not sampled by other ships in the S.A.S. Our joint efforts with the Healy crew are producing important science results,” reported Ashjian.

Wigglesworth served as a science technician for Asjian’s biology team. His primary role was responsibility for the deployment of the Video Plankton Recorder and helping with the deployment of a variety of plankton nets. Wigglesworth had many other responsibilities as well. He engaged in educational outreach with schools and was the shipboard coordinator for the Float Your Boat program [www.floatboat.org]. He also taught a celestial navigation class.

He also coordinated a program called Float the Boat. Students around the country received small wooden boats which they decorated. 300 such boats, each with an ID number, were brought to the North Pole and launched on the ice. The fleet of small boats had a GPS tracker that allow students back home to track their position on the ice as the Arctic currents move them to open water.

420 feet long, Healy is 16,000 tons and has a diesel electric propulsion system capable of 30,000 horsepower. This enables the ship to break through four-and-a-half feet of ice at a continuous speed of three knots. The SEA alumni boarded the ship in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, on Sept. 2nd for the month-long voyage. In mid-September the ship got into the ice, and on Oct. 1st it arrived at the North Pole.

“We are excited to reach the Pole!” announced Ashjian, a scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Wigglesworth explained that the expedition was scientifically important because it replicated cruise tracks dating to the 1960s, allowing comparisons to data collected on those voyages as well as to data collected on the Healy’s SAS expedition in 2015.

“We have little information from the ocean and seafloor at the top of the world so what we collect here is very valuable. It also fills in data from a region, the western Central Arctic, which was not sampled by other ships in the S.A.S. Our joint efforts with the Healy crew are producing important science results,” reported Ashjian.

Chief Scientist Carin Ashijian, W-57, of WHOI, with SEA President John Wigglesworth, S-5.

Wigglesworth said his favorite part was being in that region during the fall equinox.  “There are all kinds of transitions happening, the region is shifting from all light to all dark, from summer melt to winter refreeze. On the way up, we observed the maximum extent of receding ice, then on the way back, we saw new ice forming all in a varying array of pastel colors caused by the sun being low on the horizon.”

Arriving at the North Pole was also a highlight.  “Being at the Earth’s axis where the meridians converge left you with a feeling of awe,” he said.

The SEA alumni on the science team credited their experience at SEA with helping to shape their careers as scientists.

“I was impressed by the commitment of all the people, world-class oceanographers with decades of experience doing research above the Arctic Circle and a Coast Guard  commander and crew dedicated to the scientific mission of the cruise. Most on the ship had not been to the North Pole, so making it to 90N was an inspiration for all. It was so great to have five SEA alums there all at different stages of their careers,” said Wigglesworth.

Campbell, S-272, said SEA helped here manage the challenging job. “The personal and professional life lessons that I took away from my time with SEA helped me … as an early-career scientist on my first significant research cruise.”

Genevieve participated in SEA’s high school program in 2019, sailing aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer. That experience, she said, “taught me how much I love being at sea and participating in at-sea research. SEA’s program affirmed my plans to pursue a degree and career in oceanography…. My experience served as a springboard to other at-sea opportunities.”

Wigglesworth said his favorite part was being in that region during the fall equinox.  “There are all kinds of transitions happening, the region is shifting from all light to all dark, from summer melt to winter refreeze. On the way up, we observed the maximum extent of receding ice, then on the way back, we saw new ice forming all in a varying array of pastel colors caused by the sun being low on the horizon.”

Arriving at the North Pole was also a highlight.  “Being at the Earth’s axis where the meridians converge left you with a feeling of awe,” he said.

The SEA alumni on the science team credited their experience at SEA with helping to shape their careers as scientists.

“I was impressed by the commitment of all the people, world-class oceanographers with decades of experience doing research above the Arctic Circle and a Coast Guard  commander and crew dedicated to the scientific mission of the cruise. Most on the ship had not been to the North Pole, so making it to 90N was an inspiration for all. It was so great to have five SEA alums there all at different stages of their careers,” said Wigglesworth.

Campbell, S-272, said SEA helped here manage the challenging job. “The personal and professional life lessons that I took away from my time with SEA helped me … as an early-career scientist on my first significant research cruise.”

Genevieve participated in SEA’s high school program in 2019, sailing aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer. That experience, she said, “taught me how much I love being at sea and participating in at-sea research. SEA’s program affirmed my plans to pursue a degree and career in oceanography…. My experience served as a springboard to other at-sea opportunities.”

“SEA’s unique high school program was a valuable hands-on introduction to the field of ocean sciences. I learned how to use oceanographic instruments to collect data, and then analyze and interpret that data. The foundation of knowledge and experience that SEA’s program provided gave me a head-start on my oceanography coursework at Oregon State University,” she added.

Goethel is thankful to SEA for helping to launch her career in marine science.  Through SEA, she met her mentor and advisor who played in a key role in her participation in 16 Arctic expeditions. “This program truly launched me into my current career, one that I love and am thankful for every day and where I have met at least one SEA alum at each turn,” she said.

As a result of the voyage, Wigglesworth said his view and understanding of the planet has changed forever. He also experienced another perspective on the importance of SEA and its impact on students who have participated in the program. Understanding global ocean systems in the context of climate change is more important than ever. In the lives of many, SE has performed a transitional role in this effort.

“The importance of what SEA does is to educate how the oceans interact, and to provide an experience to understand how the ocean works. What goes on in the Atlantic and Pacific has a direct impact on what goes on in the Arctic. So even though SEA students aren’t studying the Arctic, they’re contributing to an understanding of it,” he said.

“SEA’s unique high school program was a valuable hands-on introduction to the field of ocean sciences. I learned how to use oceanographic instruments to collect data, and then analyze and interpret that data. The foundation of knowledge and experience that SEA’s program provided gave me a head-start on my oceanography coursework at Oregon State University,” she added.

Goethel is thankful to SEA for helping to launch her career in marine science.  Through SEA, she met her mentor and advisor who played in a key role in her participation in 16 Arctic expeditions. “This program truly launched me into my current career, one that I love and am thankful for every day and where I have met at least one SEA alum at each turn,” she said.

As a result of the voyage, Wigglesworth said his view and understanding of the planet has changed forever. He also experienced another perspective on the importance of SEA and its impact on students who have participated in the program. Understanding global ocean systems in the context of climate change is more important than ever. In the lives of many, SE has performed a transitional role in this effort.

“The importance of what SEA does is to educate how the oceans interact, and to provide an experience to understand how the ocean works. What goes on in the Atlantic and Pacific has a direct impact on what goes on in the Arctic. So even though SEA students aren’t studying the Arctic, they’re contributing to an understanding of it,” he said.

North Pole Expedition

Five SEA Alumni Join Scientific Team in Research Voyage to North Pole

The Synoptic Arctic Survey is an international effort to collect physical, biological and carbon data from across the Arctic Circle from 2020 to 2022, and to detect ongoing climate change and its impact.

man-and-sea

SEA’s Evolution of Ocean Research

Today, Sea Education Association’s mission is clearly spelled out.  We are “a global teaching, learning and research community dedicated to the exploration, understanding and stewardship of marine and maritime environments.”

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Dr. Jeff Schell Seeks to Unlock Mysteries of Vital North Atlantic Ecosystem

The paper, In situ observation of holopelagic Sargassum distribution and aggregation state across the entire North Atlantic from 2011 to 2020, was published last month is the online journal, PeerJ.

Dr. Heather Page.

Dr. Heather Page Co-authors Study on Oxygen Loss on Reefs

SEA’s Assistant Professor of Oceanography co-authored the ground-breaking study examining the effects of hypoxia, or low oxygen, on coral reefs around the world. The paper was published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

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