Preparation for AK

The last few weeks have been preparing the new Arctic Geophysics research team to deploy various pieces of equipment to survey the subsurface of the ice. So far we have covered polar properties of the ice and what to expect the thickness to be upon arrival as well as doing small sample exercises of calculating power that the seawater radiates through the ice up to the surface. These are all important key factors in understanding how the ice changes over time and thus, the shape it forms underneath. 

We have given the team members insight as to how the equipment will work by doing sample surveys on campus to get them a feel of working the instruments including the OhmMapper, a capacitively coupled resistivity array, a ground penetrating radar (GPR), and a homemade instrument designed to gather surface temperature data along with ambient air temperature, and the microclimate temperature variations to about a meter above the surface of the ice. All of these instruments will collect data using different methods in order to give us the best picture of the subsurface of the ice. In order to verify our results, we will be drilling into the ice, aka ground truthing. This will enable us to compare ground truthing data with OhmMapper and GPR data to confirm its accuracy and to throw out discrepancies in the data. For instance, the modeling software used often times has a hard time transitioning between the huge jump in resistivity of the ice and seawater. This can create blips or artifacts in the mapping of the ice that we know are inaccurate. Sometimes, we might see what looks like water on the surface and that is something that is not encountered so we know this cannot be accurate data. We also know a decent average of the thickness so when a piece of ice goes off the map, suggesting a 2-3 meter chunk of ice, this is also something that is likely an anomaly and can be disregarded after comparing to ground truthing data.

We have one more session to familiarize ourselves with data collection and processing before heading to the Arctic. My hopes on this trip are that the team this year be as motivated and dedicated as they were in 2014, and can receive the biggest, best data base yet. I’m excited to see which of my peers will step up and get the most out of the research trip and to see our findings being presented as a whole at the end of the semester at the Student Engagement Forum. 


The 2014 research crew in tacky Hawaiian shirts in the Arctic. Good times!

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