Arctic GEOTRACES Expedition Science Special! Episode 1: An Interview with Dr. Jay Cullen

This diary mirrors a blog post by Tereza Jarníková at our expedition website.

As we wait in the Hudson Bay (update here) before we head north again, we bring you this blog’s first Expedition Science Special! Part of the excitement of being on a research expedition is that there is a large group of scientists from around the world working together, and we get to hear about the work they do. On the blog, I’ll be conducting interviews with some of the scientists on board to hear about their research here in the Arctic. (The recordings are shipboard-quality, and sometimes you can hear the ship creaking in the background…) For our first installment of the E.S.S., I interviewed Dr. Jay Cullen about his group’s trace metal work. You can listen to the podcast right here! (Transcript below.) Continue reading

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Update on Canadian Arctic GEOTRACES 2015: Diverted for icebreaking

By Jay T. Cullen

This short post is to update interested readers on the progress of our research program investigating the impacts of climate change on the chemistry, physics and biology of the Canadian Arctic Ocean. On July 19, just before we were to cross the Arctic Circle in the northern Labrador Sea, the icebreaker CCGS Amundsen was diverted from its scientific mission to break ice and escort merchant vessels that resupply northern communities along the eastern shore of Hudson Bay. This is the first time in 13 years that the ship has been called off scientific work for icebreaking. While the resupply mission is important the scientific party is frustrated and disappointed that our long planned research expedition has been delayed. At this point we are not sure exactly when we will return to science and how much impact this delay will have on planned work. The diversion of our vessel to support resupply of Northern Communities highlights the competing pressures placed on the Canadian Coast Guard and the need for more resources if Canada values the health and well being of its residents and climate change research. Continue reading

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Arctic research expedition put on hold after vessel diverted to break ice

Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Arctic research expedition put on hold after vessel diverted to break ice


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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.
Continue reading

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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

Continue reading

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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:


What is the Rush? Continue reading

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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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