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Crude oil infiltration and movement in first-year sea ice: Impacts on ice-associated biota and physical constraints.

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funded by an award from the Coastal Marine Institute through award M14AC00015.

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Oil in ice (AMAP 2007)

Redistribution of released oil below, within and on top of sea ice (AMAP 2007).

sea ice algae

Example of sea ice biota composition from the Bering Sea ice.

Crude oil infiltration and movement in first-year sea ice: Impacts on ice-associated biota and physical constraints.

Eric Collins, Hajo Eicken, Bodil Bluhm, Rolf Gradinger

with Marc Oggier and Kyle Dilliplaine (graduate students)

Sea ice plays a critical role in the physics, chemistry and biology of polar seas. Increased resource exploitation and shipping in Arctic seas are increasing the likelihood of oil spill events during periods of ice cover in Alaskan seas. The proposed study will conduct experimental studies on (1) the small-scale (µm to dm) infiltration and movement of crude oil in sea ice and (2) its associated effects on ice-inhabiting biota in Alaskan coastal landfast ice. Three hypotheses have been developed related to oil and ice interactions, which are going to be addressed by three study objectives: a) adaptation and application of simple numerical models on movement of oil in sea ice, b) mesocosm experiments with oil and ice with and without associated ice biota and c) changes of ice biota diversity in relation to oil exposure. Experiments will be conducted in ice tanks in laboratory settings at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Seed populations for the experiments and field data on sea ice properties will be gathered during field expeditions in 2014 and 2015 in landfast ice near Barrow, Alaska. For interpretation and discussion, we will combine data from the experiments with information obtained on landfast ice properties and evolution. A team of two students will be involved in the study and will receive highly interdisciplinary training. The results of the study are highly relevant to all seasonally ice-covered regions in Alaska coastal and offshore waters.

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