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Letters: April 26, 2007

What type of equipment are you using in the expedition and what do they do? Also, have you decided to leave any equipment behind because of the smaller plane? And just to add onto that, do you know Dave Hosom, my grandfather who works at WHOI?

Matt R., Duxbury, Ma.

Hi Matt,
At the North Pole Environmental Observatory, scientists use a variety of instruments-- some anchored to the seafloor, others fixed in the sea ice, and others dipped into the ocean and pulled back out-- to study the ocean, ice, and atmosphere. To learn more about these instruments, be sure to visit the Tools and Technology page or the Hot Topic on the Ice-Tethered Profiler. I have to say that I haven't met your grandfather--Woods Hole Oceanographic is a big place, did you know almost 1000 people work there?

Chris Linder

Dear Crew,

Hello my name is Ian and I am part of the Purple Titans team in Duxbury Middle School. But right now I am in Massachusetts and I am sweating from the heat and how is there such a great difference in temp. from here to the North Pole and how does this happen so dramatically?

Ian in Duxbury

Hi Ian,
I heard that it was hot in New England! Can you believe that the day it was in the 80s Fahrenheit in New England, it was -10F here in Resolute Bay? There are a number of reasons why the polar regions remain cold. Even though the sun is above the horizon all day, it never rises high in the sky (this is because of the Earth's tilt on its axis). This means that the energy from the sun needs to pass through more atmosphere to get to the ground. Along the way, that energy is reflected and absorbed, and by the time it reaches the ground, only a small amount remains. In addition, the high reflectivity (albedo) of snow and ice surfaces means that very little of the energy that reaches the ground (or ocean, or ice) stays there. To learn more about weather and climate at the poles, visit these pages on our Compare the Poles pages.

Chris Linder

Hi, my name is Alyson and I am in the sixth grade. I have a question regarding your expedition and would be happy if you could give me an explanation. My question is: How do you think the pulse of the Arctic Ocean this year will differ from the pulse of the Arctic Ocean you took 50 years ago, during the last expedition you had? Why?

Alyson, Duxbury, MA


  1. There is a large interannual variability (the change from year to year) of the Arctic Ocean and the Arctic atmosphere. Considering the observations in 2007 relative to my last expedition (2006), I would say that there are not big changes in the average, but rather in the details. For example, the 2007 weather in April is a bit more severe than it was in 2006. Rapid changes in the wind speed and direction lead to the changes in ice drift, strong sea ice deformations, and ice ridging and ice floe breaking. This makes our work challenging because it is really difficult to find a suitable size of ice floe for airplane landing.
  2. Comparing the current state of the Arctic to 50 years ago, I would say that in general the Arctic became warmer, sea ice extent decreased and sea level is higher now by approximately 10 cm. In addition, many glaciers have disappeared or significantly melted.

Andrey Proshutinsky