The University of East Anglia—where I spent a semester abroad in 1996—is launching a project to predict how the Arctic will cope with global warming by constructing a sea ice chamber and using state-of-the-art computer models.
The €2M ($2.74 million) research initiative will reproduce the chemical exchanges between the ocean, sea ice, snow and the atmosphere in polar regions.
Funding for the five-year project, finalized earlier this month, comes from the European Research Council (ERC).
“The Arctic Ocean is a vast expanse of sea ice. Most of it is covered with snow for about half of the year, but climate change has caused temperatures to rise more than anywhere else in the world over the last few decades. 2012 saw record lows of snow and sea ice. Global environmental change of this nature is one of the greatest challenges facing society,” noted lead researcher Roland von Glasow, from UEA’s Centre for Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences at the School of Environmental Sciences.
“We will focus on the links between melting sea ice and snow, and the changing chemistry of the troposphere—the lowest 10km (6.2 miles) of atmosphere. This is important because the troposphere is home to concentrations of greenhouse gases and aerosol particles which play key roles for our climate.”
The University will use the funding to build a unique sea ice chamber, two meters (6 feet) square, in a specially designed cold room. The cube will simulate chemical exchanges that are taking place in the Arctic. Scientists will analyze the resulting data to estimate how climate change will affect the Arctic, in both short- and long-term scenarios.