International Chemistry Experiment in the Arctic Lower Troposphere (ICEALOT)

Preliminary cruise report

As part of POLARCAT, an International Polar Year activity, NOAA undertook a research cruise in the ice-free region of the Arctic during March and April of 2008. This cruise was to study springtime sources and transport of pollutants to the Arctic, evolution of aerosols and gases within the Arctic, and the climate impacts of short-lived pollutants in the Arctic.

The chief scientists on this research cruise were Tim Bates and Trish Quinn. JISAO personnel included: University of Washington research professor of Atmospheric Sciences David Covert, and NOAA PMEL scientists Jim Johnson, Drew Hamilton, Catherine Hoyle and Lindsey Shank.

  • Jim Johnson was responsible for on-board computer networking, data acquisition and transfer, meteorological measurements, ozone, radon and dimethysulfide measurements.
  • Drew Hamilton was responsible for logistics of on­board laboratory containers for PMEL scientists and guest scientists including construction, shipping, loading and underway operation. He also managed the underway aerosol optical depth measurements and Arctic fishing.
  • Catherine Hoyle and Lindsey Shank conducted the aerosol sampling and subsequent chemical analysis of the collected samples.
  • David Covert managed the preparation of instruments for the aerosol physical and optical measurements in advance of the cruise and data monitoring, from land, during the cruise.

water crashing on side of shipThe first part of Leg 1 (March 19-21) was devoted to an air quality study off the coast of New York and in Long Island Sound with a focus on photochemical processing of pollutants at cold, early springtime temperatures. During the second part of Leg 1, the ship transited across the North Atlantic while measurements were made of marine background aerosols and gases.

The ship crossed the Arctic Circle on April 3 and spent nine days between 67° and 72°N sampling local sources within the Arctic as well as pollution that had undergone long distant transport from the mid-latitudes. During Leg 2, these measurements continued as the ship left Tromso, Norway, (top photo of Tromso bridge) crossed the Norwegian and Greenland Seas to the ice edge at 80.2°N, and then headed to Reykjavik via the east coasts of Greenland and Iceland.

During the cruise the following tasks were accomplished:

  • Smelter emissions from Kola Peninsula were sampled as the ship sat downwind of Murmansk thereby achieving the goal of characterizing local point sources within the Arctic.
  • Emissions from fishing boats off the coast of northern Norway were measured again achieving the goal of characterizing local point sources.
  • Lidar measurements captured a high altitude plume of biomass burning emissions as it was transported from Eastern Europe to the Arctic.
  • Arctic haze formed from the transport of pollutants from the northern mid-latitudes was sampled within the polar front at the northern-most latitudes of the cruise. Properties of aerosol particles and gaseous compounds within the haze were characterized with one of the most comprehensive instrument packages every deployed to the Arctic.
  • Drew Hamilton on shipThe ship was positioned underneath Calipso, a space-based lidar, during 5 satellite overpasses. Two of the 5 Calipso validation exercises were conducted in conjunction with a French ATR research aircraft that performed vertical profiles over the ship thereby linking the surface and space-based measurements.
  • For comparison purposes, the ship sat near the Zeppelin sampling station located on Spitsbergen and sampled the same air mass for over half a day. The Zeppelin station has one of the longest data records in the Arctic for many of the same properties that were measured on the ship.

Over the next 2 years, the data collected on the cruise will be processed, analyzed, presented at national and international meetings, and published in scientific journals all with the goal of furthering our understanding of the impact of these short-lived pollutants on the Arctic. Scientists who carried out the measurements on the cruise were from NOAA laboratories

Additional information can be found at WHOI's Oceanus magazine