8 members of the MOD group are gearing up to head to Nome, Alaska next week, with a dozen colleagues from other universities, to embark on a month-long expedition to study the Arctic Ocean. The project is an Office of Naval Research funded experiment entitled the "Stratified Ocean Dynamics of the Arctic (SODA)". One of the main goals is to understand what processes set the amount and distribution of heat in the Arctic ocean, and how that accumulated ocean heat might or might not be responsible for the observed accelerating rate of Arctic sea ice loss. We'll add a series of posts once we get underway with more details of the science, instruments, people, and maybe even a polar bear sighting! Bu to start us off, here's an image from the the National Snow and Ice Data Center (http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/). It's a map of the Arctic Ocean as would be seen from above (satellite). The white area is where there is currently sea ice as of today, August 24th. The orange line is where the sea ice extent used to be, on average. There's a lot less now, which has significant implications for not only the Arctic ecosystem and the human population surrounding it, but the global climate as well. We are hoping that some of the secrets we uncover will help us not only understand what's happening now, but more accurately predict how this will play out as the earth continues to warm. Stay tuned!