An Australian Antarctic Division expedition leaves Hobart in the next few days to study changes in the Antarctic sea ice environment. A website has been established to communicate its progress.
Questions being explored by the scientists on board include:
How thick is the sea ice? How much algae is growing beneath it? Is the snow cover thickness changing? And how is this affecting the amount of light penetrating into the ocean? What is the impact on Southern Ocean ecosystems? How fast is the ice drifting?
The Sea Ice Physics and Ecosystem eXperiment (SIPEX) is one of Australia’s major contributions to the International Polar Year (IPY). The expedition will explore the sea ice zone around Antarctica in September - October 2007 and will investigate relationships between the physical sea ice environment and the structure of Southern Ocean ecosystems.
The expedition will be aboard Australia’s icebreaking research vessel Aurora Australis in the region of East Antarctica between 110E and 130E. Each day while the ship is in the sea ice zone, scientists will undertake experiments on the ice floes to learn about the thickness, snow cover and other properties of the sea ice, how it is affected by ocean currents and wind, the importance of the “under ice” environment as a habitat for krill and the potential effect of a changing sea ice environment on the Southern Ocean ecosystem.
SIPEX - Sea Ice Physics and Ecosystem eXperiment
Throughout this voyage, as with the Andrill project earlier this year, anecdotal information on the progress of the sea ice investigations will be made available on a regular basis via the Blog.
Published papers and datasets scientific from expeditions such as these are made publicly available through such repositories as the Data Centre at the Australian antarctic Division. However, you need to know exactly what information you want. Speaking directly with a scientist about what you envisage doing with the data can lead you to just the right kind of data.