Arctic Field Projects

Project Title: Arctic water isotope cycle processes and patterns in the Central Arctic during an International Arctic Drift Expedition (MOSAiC) (Award# 1852614)

PI: Welker, Jeffrey M (
Phone: (907) 244.7785 
Institute/Department: U of Alaska, Anchorage, Department of Biological Sciences 
IPY Project?
Funding Agency: US\Federal\NSF\GEO\OPP\ARC\AON
Program Manager: Dr. Jennifer Mercer (
Discipline(s): | Biology |

Project Web Site(s):

Science Summary:
The Arctic is experiencing dramatic changes that are impacting land and ocean environments in the north and in regions that include the entirety of the US, Europe and Scandinavia. Changes in the Arctic are even being felt in tropical regions through increased drought frequency and the intensity of water shortages. These changes are continuing to occur at faster and faster rates and are recognized and amplified by the shrinking of the Arctic's sea ice, the thawing of permafrost and ancient carbon emissions into the atmosphere, declining terrestrial snow pack, shrub encroachment of the tundra, and more frequent and prolonged Arctic Vortex blasts of cold air and snow into the US, Europe and Scandinavia. One of the most important changes that is central to the entirety of Arctic change is how the water cycle is behaving now, how it interacts with sea ice and how weather events dictate transport of Arctic moisture and air into the lower latitudes and how low latitude moisture is transferred into the Arctic, dictating precipitation patterns and the delivery of freshwater around the north. However, understanding how the Arctic water cycle is behaving over the entire calendar year, including during polar night with measurements and observations directly in the Arctic Basin during winter has been tremendously difficult as the region at times is almost as remote and inhospitable as the dark side of the moon. The goal of this project is to test, measure and develop a completely new understanding of the real-time behavior of the Arctic water cycle continuously during 1.5 years as part of a major Arctic climate initiative involving land-based stations in coordination with simultaneous measurements aboard the Polarstern icebreaker. These coordinated, real-time measurements will take place as the icebreaker drifts during fall, winter, spring and summer from the eastern Arctic, across the North Pole, along the east coast of Greenland and into the Barents Sea region. This project will take continuous measurements of water vapor and precipitation chemistry from Thule Air Base and Station Nord in Greenland and will be coordinated with measurements being taken on the ship and from other land-based stations in the Arctic. This simultaneous data will be used in new visualization packages to display, share and observe how sea ice, atmospheric transport patterns, and weather patterns are dictating the distribution of water vapor and precipitation throughout the Arctic and into North America, Europe, Scandinavia and Eurasia. This project has several broader impacts, outreach and educational outcomes. By coordinating the measurements with the MOSAiC drift mission, it will contribute to the collective wisdom and understanding of the Arctic System, helping to develop a more holistic understanding of its behavior over an entire year, including the most unresolved period, polar night & winter. The project also aims to educate students in classrooms during the observation period of what is discovered, including real-time depictions of water vapor and precipitation chemistry as storm systems develop and then propagate across the Arctic Basin and from the Arctic Basin into North America and Europe and from Europe and North America into the Arctic. The project includes training a postdoctoral scientist whereby she/he will become familiar with cutting edge technology and she/he will have opportunities to explore new venues of study by working with like-generation scientists from many of the Artic countries including partners from Germany, Sweden, Finland and Denmark. The project also aims to develop a new set of Arctic Water Cycle and Arctic Change lectures to be offered through UArctic ( and posted for public access. These lectures will also be made available to the global community including the US, Finnish, Swedish, German, Danish and Norwegian societies.

Logistics Summary:
his EAGER project will continue water vapor isotope studies at Thule Air Base, running since October 2016, originally under ITEX 1504381 and then as a non-NSF reimbursable project. Additionally, the PI will begin a second suite of water vapor isotope measurements based from Villum Research Station at Station Nord. In each year of the project (2019 and 2020), researchers will travel to Thule and Station Nord in Greenland. The PIs will work directly with Villum Research Station staff to maintain instrumentation after install. There will also be a contribution of unique data from this EAGER grant to the Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC) field campaign. In 2019, a field team of two will travel to Thule via AMC to maintain the instruments there. A group of two will also travel to Station Nord, via the Danish Air Force and stay at the Villum Research Station where they will install the new system, where after installation, the Villum staff will maintain the instrument.?

At Thule, CPS will provide Air Mobility Command (AMC) and Embassy ticketing and cargo between Baltimore and Thule, lodging, use of truck, and provision of space and power for instrument in Building 1971. At Station Nord, CPS will provide funds for cargo from the logistics hub in Denmark to/from Nord, Nord permit fees, and user days at Villum Research Station. All other costs associated with this project will be paid by the PI through the grant.
SeasonField SiteDate InDate Out#People
2019Greenland - Station Nord08 / 27 / 2019 09 / 05 / 20192
2019Greenland - Thule07 / 17 / 2019 08 / 02 / 20192
2020Greenland - Station Nord08 / 27 / 2020 09 / 05 / 20202
2020Greenland - Thule07 / 17 / 2020 08 / 02 / 20202

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     Number of projects returned based on your query parameters = 1