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Alaska Beat

NASA returns to Arctic to study climate change

  • Author: Craig Medred
  • Updated: September 27, 2016
  • Published June 26, 2011

This week, NASA will embark on the final leg of its mission to study how changing environmental conditions affect the Arctic's chemistry and ecosystems. On June 25, the ICESCAPE mission, or "Impacts of Climate on Ecosystems and Chemistry of the Arctic Pacific Environment," sends 47 scientists to the Chukchi and Beaufort seas along Alaska's western and northern coasts aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy. Phytoplankton, microscopic organisms that form the base of the aquatic food web, are a key focus of the campaign. "Last year, ICESCAPE nailed down quite a few things in terms of the phytoplankton work," said chief scientist Kevin Arrigo of Stanford University. "We know pretty well now how fast they are growing and what they are responding to. The repeat measurements from this voyage will help us confirm what's going on." The group of scientists will maintain a blog that charts their discoveries and their experiences in the Arctic.

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