UM Scientist to Lead Arctic Expedition

Arctic expedition could shed new light on global climate change.

Coral Gables (March 19, 2012) — Led by a University of Miami scientist, a multinational team of researchers will travel to the Arctic Ocean to conduct experiments that could lead to a better understanding of the effects of global climate change in the region.

Established by the U.S. GEOTRACES Science Steering Committee, the U.S. Arctic GEOTRACES initiative will use multiple icebreakers—anticipated to be provided initially by the United States and Germany—and will include scientists from several nations who will conduct sampling of the Arctic Ocean. Initial cruises are tentatively planned for 2015.

Chaired by David Kadko, professor and chair of marine and atmospheric chemistry at UM’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, the effort will study how the carbon budget, geochemical cycles, and ecosystems in the Arctic respond to rapidly changing climate conditions.

“This initiative marks the first time we will conduct a grand-scale, coordinated experiment in the Arctic Ocean that will allow us to better understand the effects of global climate change on the region,” said Kadko. “We now have the tools and the required access to test the biogeochemical processes taking place right now in the Arctic, which will help us to establish a baseline against which to measure varying conditions in the future.”

The GEOTRACES program has held several informational meetings around the world to update the community on the planning process and solicit input from researchers. The meetings and workshops, funded in part by the National Science Foundation, have brought together some of the world’s top scientists interested in the biogeochemical cycles of trace elements and their isotopes to assist in planning the expeditions. From June 13-15 the U.S. Arctic GEOTRACES group will hold an implementation meeting in Washington D.C. at NSF headquarters to define the scientific objectives of a U.S.-led cruise in the western Arctic Ocean, planned for late summer 2015. Planning by other nations regarding their contributions is ongoing and will be coordinated with the U.S. effort.

“Significantly, the data we gather will help us to model feedback mechanisms and future trajectories of Arctic change we may face with ongoing shifts in climate that may impact us, regardless of whether we live near the Arctic or as far away as Miami,” added Kadko.

GEOTRACES is an international program whose mission is to identify processes and quantify fluxes that control the distributions of key trace elements and isotopes in the ocean, and to establish the sensitivity of these distributions to changing environmental conditions.

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