The Environment of the Arctic: Climate, Ocean and Sea Ice (TEA-COSI)

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Earth Sciences

Abstract

Look at a map of the world and find the Shetland Islands. Follow the 60 degrees north latitude circle eastwards. You pass through St. Petersburg, the Ural Mountains, Siberia, the Bering Sea, Alaska, northern Canada, the southern tip of Greenland, then back to the Shetlands. All these places are cold, harsh environments, particularly in winter, except the Shetlands, which is wet and windy but quite mild all year. This is because in the UK we benefit from heat brought northwards by the Atlantic Ocean in a current called the Conveyor Belt. This current is driven by surface water being made to sink by the extreme cold in and around the Arctic. It returns southwards through the Atlantic at great depths. Scientists think it is possible that the Conveyor Belt could slow down or stop, and if it did, the UK would get much colder.

We know the planet has been warming for the last century or more, and we think this is due to the Greenhouse Effect. Burning fossil fuels puts a lot of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which stops heat from leaving the Earth, like the glass in a greenhouse. In a warming world, ice melts faster, and there is a lot of ice on the Earth: ice caps on Greenland and Antarctica, sea ice in the Arctic and Antarctic Oceans, glaciers in high mountains. And we know that the Arctic is the fastest-warming part of the planet. This causes extra amounts of fresh water to flow into the oceans. Now this fresh water can affect the Conveyor Belt by acting like a lid of water too light to sink, so the Conveyor Belt stops.

What is the chance of this happening? We do not know, because there is much we do not understand about how the Arctic Ocean works. You need a powerful icebreaker to get into the Arctic Ocean, and that's only really possible in the summer, because in winter the sea ice thickens and the weather is bad. Scientists all over the world agree that the Arctic Ocean is important because it contains a lot of freshwater, which is why, although it is difficult to make measurements in the Arctic, the UK's Natural Environment Research Council has decided to fund a programme of scientific research in the Arctic.

We want to be able to make better predictions of how the Arctic climate will change during the 21st century, so this project will help improve our ability to make these predictions. We will do this by improving the way that computer models of the Earth's climate represent the Arctic. We are going to treat the Arctic Ocean as a box, with a top, a bottom, sides and an interior, and we're going to examine all these parts of the box using measurements from space, from ships, from instruments moored to the sea bed, and from robotic sensors attached to drifting sea ice. We'll use all these measurements together to improve the scientific equations within the computer models, and then we'll run the models into the future to create better predictions not just of the Arctic, but of how changes in the Arctic might influence UK, European and global climate. With better predictions, we can make better plans for the future.

Planned Impact

The academic beneficiaries will be UK, Arctic and global climate scientists. We specifically included the UK Meteorological Office's Hadley Centre early in the planning for this project, and, as major project collaborators, we will fund part of their work in order to help keep the Hadley Centre at the forefront of the global climate modelling community.

The UK government departments that will benefit directly from this project are the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), and the Department of Transport (DfT). DECC are responsible for advising the UK government on climate risks and developing mitigation strategies at UK, European and international scales and for international adaptation. DEFRA is responsible for advising on UK adaptation strategies. The FCO are responsible for developing and shaping the UK's relationship with Arctic-rim nations and the forward look of this strategy. The DfT are tasked with ensuring that the UK's shipping/ports are operated in an efficient manner, and that UK shipping remains a globally competitive industry in the future. All these government departments will benefit directly from an improvement in UK capability to predict Arctic climate through the 21st century.

We will maximise the project's impact and achieve the project's goals for knowledge exchange through early and continued stakeholder engagement in consultation with the NERC Arctic Office, the Arctic programme management, and via planned activities within the project itself.

As measures of success, we will attend international science meetings (as normal). We will also catalogue the use of the Project's science findings in assisting government decisions and policy, in collaboration with nominated contacts in the relevant departments, and we will record the utilisation of project results in adjustments and modifications to Hadley Centre models and modelling approaches. We plan an open end-project meeting aimed at the scientific and stakeholder communities. Its success will be measured by the extent to which it attracts informed and wide user and scientist attendance.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Substantial enhancement in our understanding of key Arctic ocean and sea ice processes and their impact on the Arctic and wider climate system, in both the present and future. This will directly address the overall aim of the NERC Arctic programme: to improve capability to predict changes in the Arctic.
Exploitation Route To expand upon the results from TEACOSI we have started exploring with colleagues from Reading, NOCS, Exeter, and the SKIM (satellite) Mission Advisory Group team other applications including into the Southern Ocean. Several papers have been published or submitted on this topic in leading journals (i.e. GRL, etc...) and have also contributed to form the basis for a funded project with ESA co-lead by UCL.
Sectors Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice

URL http://teacosi.org/
 
Description Project has now ended. The work initiated in 2012 has had a significant impact on the scientific community looking at the polar climate system and at the links and interactions between air-ice-ocean. As demonstrated by numerous follow on initiatives (including several NERC standard and large grants) this project was at the forefront of scientific research. On a personal level as a CoI for UCL it lead to my involvement as the polar expert on a proposed ESA satellite mission (SKIM - https://www.skim-ee9.org/The-mission) that looks into measuring surface currents and waves at a new level of temporal and spatial resolution. Applied to the polar oceans this should help us continue to investigate some of the original questions first asked in TEACOSI. As part of the Mission Advisory Group of this mission my role is to make sure that the polar component of the mission is successful and understood by the community and contribute to the selection of the mission at the User Consultation Meeting (UCM) this July in Cambridge.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Societal,Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description Input to Arctic Select Committee of House of Lords - oral evidence (Profs Andy Shepherd and Danny Feltham)
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Participation in advisory committee
URL http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/arctic-committee/ar...
 
Description Input to Arctic Select Committee of House of Lords - written evidence (Prof Andy Shepherd)
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Participation in advisory committee
URL http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/arctic-committee/ar...
 
Description Input to Arctic Select Committee of House of Lords - written evidence (Prof Danny Feltham)
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Participation in advisory committee
URL http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/arctic-committee/ar...
 
Description NERC standard grant
Amount £641,970 (GBP)
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2018 
End 06/2020
 
Description Support to science element (STSE) Arctic+
Amount € 400,000 (EUR)
Organisation European Space Agency 
Sector Public
Country France
Start 01/2017 
End 06/2018
 
Title Updated version of sea ice model CICE 
Description A parameterization of form drag is now implemented in the sea ice model CICE. This parameterization is being used by the MetOffice and other groups internationally. 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2015 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Met Office is using the new model in operational settings 
 
Title monthly fields of dynamic ocean topography (DOT) between 60N and 81.5N, for the period 2003-2014 
Description The data consists of monthly fields of dynamic ocean topography (DOT) between 60N and 81.5N, for the period 2003-2014. Envisat data are used for 2003-2011 and CryoSat-2 data are used for 2012-2014. Sea surface height estimates from leads in sea ice-covered regions of the Arctic have been combined with regular open ocean estimates of sea surface height, and data from the two satellites have been cross-calibrated in the mission overlap period (November 2011 - March 2012). 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2016 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Several publications are in preparation or under review based on this work. Also 2 PhD students cosupervised by CoI Tsamados are currently using this datasets. 
URL http://www.cpom.ucl.ac.uk/dynamic_topography/
 
Description Collaboration with IFREMER on role of waves - ice interaction 
Organisation French Research Institute for the Exploitation of the Sea
Country France 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Invited for a week at IFREMER to assist with the implementation of a new wave model in the sea ice model CICE
Collaborator Contribution CoI Tsamados assisted in the implementation of a wave model into the sea ice model CICE. Collaboration with PhD student (Guillaume Boutin) and his supervisor (Fabrice Ardhuin).
Impact A new model of sea ice CICE is in preparation that realistically accounts for wave propagation and evolution within the sea ice pack. A grant has been submitted to NERC with IFREMER listed as a project partner. A Marie Curie fellowship was awarded to Lucia Gualtieri at UCL in collaboration with CoI Tsamados
Start Year 2016
 
Description IceBridge data processing 
Organisation National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Country United States 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution I have contributed in the processing of the data. I have also helped connect the new dataset to current climate related question regarding the importance of the sea ice topography in the controlling the fluxes of momentum and heat at the ice-ocean and ice-atmosphere interfaces. I have also contributed to the mathematical derivations.
Collaborator Contribution The partners have provided state of the art remote sensing data from the ongoing NASA Operation IceBridge project that was devised to bridge the gap between the two NASA satellite missions ICESAT and ICESAT2
Impact A paper is under revision in the Cryosphere "http://www.the-cryosphere-discuss.net/tc-2015-199/"
Start Year 2014
 
Description Marie Curie Fellowship 
Organisation Columbia University
Department Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Acted as hosted institution and helped draft a proposal for Lucia Gualtieri's fellowship application
Collaborator Contribution Lucia Gualtieri wrote the fellowship application.
Impact A funded fellowship to take place at UCL in 2018 - 2019.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Participation in the Mission Advisory Group for the new Sea surface KInematics Multiscale monitoring (SKIM) satellite mission 
Organisation French Research Institute for the Exploitation of the Sea
Country French Polynesia 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Collaboration with scientists from Europe
Collaborator Contribution SKIM is an ESA satellite mission (now in phase A, possible launch in 2025) that will measure surface currents and ice drift (within 10 cm/s at 40 km resolution) waves spectra (down to 20 m wavelength) over the whole globe from the Antarctic to 82°N. SKIM is one of the 2 missions pre-selected to become Earth Explorer 9. Final selection in 2019.
Impact This new collaboration could result in a new satellite in orbit with a UK participation via UCL
Start Year 2018
 
Description Blog: Ice Spy - UCL's contribution to CryoVEx 2014 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Communicated Arctic fieldwork experience to lay audience. Videos were also created to demonstrate the techniques used and results: http://vimeo.com/96674426
http://vimeo.com/106160825
http://vimeo.com/106159362


The blog has had a total of 4,426 page views, and the related YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2jXqVmJQ3P5bzfyoiR5tkw) has had 515 views to date.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.ice-spy.blogspot.co.uk
 
Description Data Sciences for Climate and Environment workshop at the Alan Turing Institute 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Data Sciences for Climate and Environment

Organisers: Michel Tsamados (University College London); Chris Oates (Newcastle University), Richard Smith, (University of North Carolina), and Ruth Petrie, (Rutherford Appleton Laboratory)

Date: 26 March 2018

Venue: The Alan Turing Institute


The Lloyd's Register Foundation (LRF) programme on data-centric engineering at the Alan Turing Institute is delighted to partner with the Statistical and Applied Mathematical Sciences Institute (SAMSI) to present this topical workshop on Data Sciences for Climate and Environment. The LRF programme, which brings together world-leading researchers from around the UK, aims to address the data-centric engineering needs of society and industry - an important component of which is to better understand the risks posed to infrastructure and society by the natural environment.

Collectively, we are modelling and monitoring our planet better than we have ever done in our history, as a result of sustained efforts from the climate modelling community and space agencies and the private sector worldwide. Climate and weather models can now be run at finer spatial resolutions (10km or better), therefore enabling more realistic simulations of smaller and smaller scale processes (i.e. tropical cyclones in the atmosphere or eddies in the ocean) that can have severe impacts on our planet.

At the same time there is a rapid growth in the number of satellites orbiting the Earth (221 launched in 2015, around 5000 in total) with a significant fraction of these satellites dedicated to Earth Observation using a large variety of sensors working at different electromagnetic frequencies (optical, radar, infrared, etc.). Our ability to store, process and share efficiently the vast amounts of data that are produced (~Pb yearly) by the modelling and remote sensing communities is a pre-requisite for the good functioning of these often publicly funded large programmes.

In this one-day workshop our speakers will present on how the new tools developed in data sciences can be applied to questions relating to climate and the environment to help us address the great challenges that our society is facing in a rapidly changing planet. Our event will be structured around five keynote speakers highlighting five separate topics described below and followed by a panel dialogue between our experts and the audience on the topic of Data Sciences for the Climate and the Environment.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.turing.ac.uk/events/data-sciences-climate-environment/
 
Description Interview in online scientific page CarbonBrief - 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Inside MOSAiC
The world's largest polar research expedition is currently underway in the Arctic. The year-long expedition, known as the Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC), involves 300 researchers from 19 countries. From a ship trapped in the sea ice, scientists are taking measurements that could help to transform climate models. Carbon Brief's science writer Daisy Dunne joined the expedition for its first six weeks in the autumn of 2019. This is the second of four articles focused on the MOSAiC expedition.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://interactive.carbonbrief.org/when-will-the-arctic-see-its-first-ice-free-summer/
 
Description Interview in scientific online magazine Carbbon Brief 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The world's largest polar research expedition is currently underway in the Arctic. The year-long mission, known as the Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC), involves 600 people from 19 countries. From a ship trapped in the sea ice, scientists are taking a diverse range of measurements that could help to transform climate models. Carbon Brief's science writer Daisy Dunne joined the expedition for its first six weeks in the autumn of 2019. This is the first of four articles focused on MOSAiC research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.carbonbrief.org/inside-mosaic-how-a-year-long-arctic-expedition-is-helping-climate-scien...
 
Description Interview in scientific online magazine E&E News - 'We're in the ice!' Vessel shudders as it enters Arctic floe 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact ON BOARD THE AKADEMIK FEDOROV, Barents Sea - Michel Tsamados has studied sea ice for nearly a decade, but until this week he'd never seen it in person.

A physicist at University College London, Tsamados conducts most of his work using satellite data, studying the remote Arctic from afar. That changed late Wednesday night, when the 38-year-old researcher finally witnessed, up close, the focus of his life's work. Standing on the deck of Russian research vessel Akademik Fedorov, cruising through the Arctic Ocean around 81 degrees latitude, he watched a small, gray blob drift into focus. It was his first ice floe.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.eenews.net/stories/1061172967
 
Description Interview in scientific online magazine Quanta - The Voyage to the End of Ice 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Interview in

The Voyage to the End of Ice
Arctic ice is disappearing - the question is how fast. Summer sea ice could endure 100 more years, or it could vanish later this decade, with disastrous consequences for the rest of the planet. To nail down the answer, an expedition to the top of the world has to untangle the knotty physics of ice.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.quantamagazine.org/the-voyage-to-the-end-of-ice-20200116/
 
Description Media engagement (BBC website): Melt ponds successfully forecast Arctic sea-ice extent 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Prof Danny Feltham engaged with BBC journalist Jonathan Amos to develop a news story about CPOM's work on forecasting the extent of summer sea ice in the Arctic, carried out at Reading University.

TBC however the results are not only of broad general interest but also useful for sectors working in the Arctic such as the shipping, tourism and oil industries.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-29331969
 
Description Media engagement (BBC website): Ponds predict Arctic sea-ice melt 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Professor Danny Feltham engaged with BBC journalist Jonathan Amos to develop a news story about CPOM's work to predict the melting of sea ice during Arctic summers. This communicated the results of the Nature Climate Change paper "September Arctic sea-ice minimum predicted by spring melt-pond fraction" to a wide audience.

TBC
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-27870459
 
Description UCL Lunch hour lecture on "Are we waking up the sleeping Arctic Ocean" 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact UCL lunch hour lectures are a prestigious series of lectures open to the public and held every week at UCL

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_yhdnP8suFo
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_yhdnP8suFo