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


funded by an award from the Coastal Marine Institute.

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Background information

Economic interest in oil and gas resources in the Arctic has increased over the past decade (Spring et al. 2011). Despite the dramatic decline in sea ice cover during the Arctic summer (Stroeve et al. 2012), both coastal landfast ice and offshore pack ice will continue to form in the Alaskan Arctic for the foreseeable future adjacent to or within oil and gas lease areas (Markon et al. 2012). The oil industry and spill responders will, hence, continue to be faced with sea ice during their exploration, routine production and potential emergency operations for several months each year. Projected increases in shipping activity in the region will further increase oil pollution risks (AMSA 2009). As a result, it is necessary to improve our understanding of the fate of oil in ice-covered waters, assess its potential impact on ice biota and further refine spill response in sea ice. Sea ice provides a habitat for a wide range of biota that inhabit the surface, interior, and bottom ice layers including single-celled organisms such as diatom algae as well as multi-cellular taxa such as nematode round worms, various crustaceans and Arctic cod (Bluhm et al. 2010). We propose to conduct a study of (1) the infiltration and movement of crude oil in sea ice on the micro-scale (µm up to dm) and (2) its associated effects on ice-inhabiting biota in Alaskan coastal landfast ice.

For updated information on sea ice conditions in general: check Cryosphere today.

Sea Ice in the Arctic Ocean:




page modified July 8, 2014.