Science on board


19 February 2007

Despite a period of strong wind bringing snow and thick cloud cover, we are now seeing the rapid and welcome return of natural light. With the current weather conditions we are even more vigilant in keeping an eye on our scientific material, ever aware that the ice could move at any moment.

In the next few logs I will take the opportunity to talk more about the specific scientific programmes that have been our daily occupation throughout the winter.

Overall, the work we are undertaking is part of a large European programme called DAMOCLES (Developing Arctic Modelling and Observing Capabilities for Long-term Environmental Studies) coinciding with the International Polar Year (IPY) 2007-08. The main objective of Tara-Damocles is to reduce the uncertainty in our understanding of climate change in the Arctic concerning sea-ice cover, key atmospheric processes and ocean circulation in order to improve our capability in simulating environmental change.

This research will permit scientists to better evaluate the environmental and socio-economic impacts of a drastic retreat of the Arctic perennial sea-ice cover, or even its disappearance in the near future. By studying climate change in the sensitive Polar Regions we can also better understand the evolution of the climate in temperate regions.

During our two year drift we will collect data relating to the sea-ice, atmosphere and ocean, observing the atmosphere to a height of 3000m and the ocean to a depth of 4000m. This includes investigations into meteorology and lower atmosphere dynamics, radiation balance, snow and ice mass balance, oceanography, atmospheric chemistry and marine biology.