The SODA Project (no calories, all marine science)

by Vicky Vásquez

MLML researchers recently participated in a collaborative research project orchestrated by the Office of Naval Research to study stratified ocean dynamics in the Arctic (SODA). Two seas were examined for this project, the Beaufort and Chukchi seas; with the MLML team exploring the former.

One of three encounters with polar bears as we were ice breaking toward the three ice instrument cluster sites around 80 N in the eastern Beaufort Sea. This was a mother and second year youth. (Photo Source: Dr. Tim Stanton)

Starting out from Dutch Harbor Alaska, adjunct faculty member, Dr. Tim Stanton of the Chemical Oceanography lab and student Amanda Camarato of the Physical Oceanography lab set out for the Beaufort Sea to spend 35 days aboard the US Coast Guard Cutter Healy (USCGC Healy).

Team members of the SODA cruise to the Arctic Ocean with the USCGC Healy in the background. (Photo Source: Amanda Camarato)

In addition to the USCGC Healy consisting of an excellent captain and crew, the vessel itself is currently the United States' newest and most technically advanced polar icebreaker. Dr. Stanton, who also serves as a Research Professor at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS), led the NPS Team, which also included Dr. William Shaw as well as students Roslyn Albee and Terrance Green of NPS.

Group photo after the third Autonomous Ocean Flux Buoy was deployed. Left to right: Amanda, Roslyn, Eric (UW helper), myself, Bill Shaw. The buoy measures surface forcing, current structure below the ice, and the vertical transport of heat, salt and momentum between the ocean and ice over the next year. (Photo Source: Dr. Tim Stanton)


Their team was one of five groups deploying moorings, ocean gliders and ice-supported instrumentation to study the effects of evolving ocean stratification (vertical density gradients) on the rapidly melting summer ice cover in the Canada Basin. The NPS team deployed Autonomous Ocean Flux Buoys (AOFBs) on ice floes. To learn more check out the SODA webpage.

Installing the primary ocean flux sensor down through the 24" hole drilled through the sea ice. Left to right: Tim, Terrance, Bill, Eric. (Photo Source: Dr. Tim Stanton)