From mid-February to mid-April 2012, Professor Paul Shepson’s research group at Purdue University (West Lafayette, Indiana) is participating in a field research campaign in Barrow, Alaska. The small town of Barrow, far north of the Arctic Circle, is the northernmost point in the United States, allowing “easy” access to Arctic sea ice. Over the past few decades, the amount of sea ice in the Arctic has decreased dramatically, and this loss is predicted to continue due to the warming climate. The atmosphere in the Arctic is impacted by the presence of sea ice and snow, which provide surfaces for reactions of atmospheric trace gases. These chemical reactions impact greenhouse gases, as well as toxic pollutants that accumulate in the snowpack, tundra, and Arctic animals. We are funded by the National Science Foundation and NASA to perform ground- and aircraft-based measurements in Barrow during the NASA field campaign BROMEX (Bromine, Ozone, and Mercury EXperiment). This study involves ground-, aircraft-, helicopter-, and satellite-based measurements to identify the impacts of Arctic sea ice loss on the troposphere, the lowermost portion of the Earth’s atmosphere.
BROMEX brings together scientists from 4 countries and 10 institutions: Purdue University, University of Alaska at Fairbanks, University of Washington, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, National Ice Center, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, University of Bremen (Germany), University of Hamburg (Germany), Environment Canada, and Natural Environment Research Council (UK).
Participating from Purdue University are Professor Paul Shepson (Professor of Chemistry and Earth and Atmospheric Sciences; pilot of the Purdue Aircraft Laboratory for Atmospheric Research (ALAR, or a fun name for our Beechcraft Duchess airplane)), Dr. Kerri Pratt (National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in Polar Regions Research), Kyle Custard (2nd year chemistry Ph.D. student), and Brian Stirm (our amazing aircraft mechanic, part of the Purdue Department of Aviation Technology). We will be making measurements of atmospheric trace gases and particles on the airplane and at a ground-based location, as well as investigating chemical reactions of gases on the snowpack surface.
Thanks for listening! We hope that you'll enjoy reading about our adventures!
If you are an educator, please email me (Kerri, kapratt 'at' purdue.edu) your students' questions! With your permission, I'd like to post and answer students' questions! Questions about being a scientist, field research, the Arctic, atmosphere-sea ice interactions, climate change, chemistry, etc. are encouraged!