Day 8: Canadian Arctic GEOTRACES Expedition

By Jay T. Cullen

Surface wind map of the Labrador Sea from July 16, 2015. Our first sampling occurred roughly in the centre of the map. Winds were ~30-40 knots during this period. Image by

We are now on Day 8 of the Canadian Arctic GEOTRACES Expedition the goals of which were stated in a previous diary. We left Quebec City on July 10 and have been moving farther north in the Labrador Sea to occupy two planned deep water sampling stations there before moving into the Baffin Basin.
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Canadian GEOTRACES Arctic Expedition 2015

By Jay T. Cullen

The science enabled icebreaker CCGS Amundsen being loaded for its annual Arctic expedition at the Coast Guard Base in Quebec City. The ship leaves Quebec in July and returns again in October at the end of Arctic operations. Photo by Tereza Jarníková

From July 10 to August 20 I will be aboard the CCGS Amundsen working with a group of scientists to better understand how climate change in the Arctic is affecting important physical, biological and chemical processes and conditions in the marine environment.

The main scientific objectives of this program are as follows:

  1. develop novel water & circulation tracers to monitor future circulation changes in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago (CAA), an important flow path where the Pacific, Arctic and Atlantic Ocean waters are connected
  2. assess the effect of ocean acidification on metal speciation, bioavailability and toxicity to marine organisms
  3. document the effect of trace chemical elements on plant and animal growth & greenhouse gas emissions
  4. develop better models to predict changes in ocean circulation & productivity in the CAA, their consequences in the N. Atlantic, and globally

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Citizen Scientist Discovers Amazing Tanner Crab Migration in Deep Ocean

By Jay T. Cullen

This post is based on a recent blog by Fabio De Leo a scientist working with Ocean Networks Canada on March 19, 2015

Ocean Networks Canada is a fiber optically cabled observatory that powers instruments and returns data from a array of nodes distributed in the Salish Sea and northeast Pacific Ocean.  They maintain a number of high definition cameras that return images and real time video from the seafloor in various locations. One of these cameras is deployed at more than 1000 meters depth in Barkley Canyon off the coast of Bamfield and Ucluelet on the west coast of Vancouver Island.


On February 12, 2015 a citizen scientist logged on to the POD 1 camera in Barkley Canyon and saw a most amazing migration of Tanner crabs (Chionoecetes tanneri). Michael, a post-office worker from Minnesota in the United States, saw the following and contacted ONC scientists to report his discovery:


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Winter Maximum Sea Ice Extent in Arctic at All Time Low

By Jay T. Cullen

In preparation for our upcoming Arctic field season we have been paying attention to sea ice conditions in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago and the Beaufort Sea.  Over the course of the northern hemisphere winter sea ice forms and spreads across the Arctic Ocean reaching farther and farther south.  Maximum extent of the ice is normally recorded in late February to early March of every year.  This year the maximum ice extent was the smallest ever measured since the scientific community began to keep records of sea ice extent.

Area of the Arctic Ocean covered by at least 15% sea ice for 2015 (solid blue line) compared with 2012 (dashed - year of record minimum extent) and the average from 1981–2010 (black line). Figure from NSIDC

Area of the Arctic Ocean covered by at least 15% sea ice for 2015 (solid blue line) compared with 2012 (dashed – year of record minimum extent) and the average from 1981–2010 (black line). Figure from NSIDC

The following video was released by NASA explaining the situation:

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Talk at Mobilizing Science Knowledge and Research: A National Centre of Excellence Symposium

Knowledge Mobilization Symposium Halifax 2015January 28, 2015

Cullen traveled to Halifax to present a talk about the early stages of the InFORM project and efforts to build a citizen scientist network and mobilize knowledge about the impacts of the Fukushima Dai-ichi disaster on the health of the North Pacific and residents of Canada’s west coast. Continue reading

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Loss of Thick Multi-year Sea-Ice From the Arctic Ocean

Jan. 21, 2015

by Jay T. Cullen

Our research group has been working to understand how regional warming being experienced in the Arctic is likely to affect the physics, chemistry and biology of the Arctic Ocean.  Melting of seasonal sea-ice and the loss of multi-year ice (ice that escapes melting each summer) has become more pronounced over the last ~30 years.  Melting sea-ice adds freshwater to the Arctic, allows more wind driven mixing and changes nutrient and light fields that affect how much primary production (algae growth) is likely to occur.

Specifically we are interested in how these physical changes impact the distribution and availability of trace metals which can be nutrients (e.g. iron and zinc) or toxins (e.g. cadmium and lead) for the marine biota.

This new movie below was produced by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) team using data provided by Mark Tschudi to demonstrate how progressively more extensive summer sea-ice melt leads to melting and export of thick, perennial sea-ice from the Arctic Ocean.  Climate change is making for interesting times in the Arctic Ocean.  Our team will be working in the high Arctic this summer and fall as part of the international GEOTRACES program.


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