Warming Arctic means less ice, bigger waves

Throughout the month of November 2019, a team of University of Washington researchers chased storms in the Arctic Ocean. The project, Coastal Ocean Dynamics in the Arctic , or CODA, is looking at how water currents shift and waves hit the coast with more open water, to provide better forecasts and predictions for the region’s future.

The team used the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ RV Sikuliaq icebreaker for three weeks to watch fall storms hit the shore at the time of year when coastal ice begins to form. The video above was taken after the cruise, when the research vessel was docked at the UW Oceanography dock.

"We know from other projects and other work that the waves are definitely on the increase in the Arctic,” Thomson told the Associated Press during the expedition. He published research that first detected house-sized waves during a September 2012 storm in the central Arctic Ocean. Bigger storms could affect communities already vulnerable to coastal erosion and pose dangers for small boats.

To learn more about the effort, see the photos and videos from the expedition on the project’s outreach website, or read the post-trip recap from the UW Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering.

Tag(s): Applied Physics Laboratory o College of Engineering o Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering o Jim Thomson o oceanography o polar science

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