The sea ice cover in the Arctic has strongly retreated. However, the waters around Greenland are still home to the oldest and thickest multiyear ice in the Arctic. Through Fram and Nares Straits in the East and West of Greenland large amounts of sea ice and freshwater are released to the North Atlantic where they strongly affect climate and ecosystem processes, and where sea ice poses a hazard to marine operations. Little is known about how the region’s sea ice has changed.
We will carry out extensive ice thickness surveys in Nares Strait, north of Greenland, and in Fram Strait to assess the state of the sea ice in those important regions, and to observe the regionally varying thinning rates. Surveys will be carried out with the ship’s helicopter using an electromagnetic (EM) thickness sounder and on ice floes whenever they can be accessed. Airborne video observations of melt pond coverage will complement the measurements. Together with ice thickness surveys carried out by our group in the same region during spring, the GLASIS summer surveys will also provide important information about seasonal thinning rates between spring and summer. With thickness being one of the key sea ice properties, the planned observations are important for the detection, quantification, and improved prediction of Arctic sea ice change, and complement remote sensing, oceanographic observations, and modelling studies.