Innovative undergraduate research experiences to study Arctic water column chemistry and greenhouse gas flux

Nikolas VanKeersbilck1, Alessandra D'Angelo2, Cynthia Garcia-Eidell3, Frances Crable3, Samira Umar3, Humair Raziuddin3, Theressa Ewa3, Brice Loose4, Holly Morin2, Donglai Gong5, Miquel A Gonzalez-Meler6 and Amy Denton1, (1)California State University Channel Islands, Camarillo, CA, United States, (2)University of Rhode Island, Graduate School of Oceanography, Narragansett, RI, United States, (3)University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, United States, (4)University of Rhode Island, Narragansett, RI, United States, (5)Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Gloucester Point, VA, United States, (6)Univ Illinois Chicago, Chicago, United States
Abstract:
The Northwest Passage Project (NPP), funded by the National Science Foundation and the Heising-Simons Foundation, is a collaborative project between the University of Rhode Island, the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat, the film company David Clark Inc., five minority serving institutions, and other research partners. The overarching goal of the NPP is to understand how the waters of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago (CAA) have changed as a consequence of rapid Arctic warming. The innovative, 18-day expedition aboard the Swedish icebreaker Oden focused on scientific research while also prioritizing science communication. In addition to having the opportunity to deploy oceanographic instruments and conduct data analysis, undergraduates were also heavily involved in interactive broadcasts from the ship. Science goals, methods, and preliminary results were shared with live audiences at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, the Exploratorium, and the Alaska SeaLife Center. Broad public audiences were also engaged through Facebook Live events. This presentation will highlight these experiences, with a special focus on the work of the undergraduates and scientists who are part of the NPP chemistry group. Of particular interest during the expedition was the concentration and isotopic composition of methane and carbon dioxide, two prevalent greenhouse gases. Arctic sea ice has long limited sea-air exchange of methane and carbon dioxide, but with a warming Arctic, both of these gases are now readily being emitted into the atmosphere. The chemistry team focused on investigating changes in water chemistry and greenhouse gas source attribution, along with methanotrophic microbial activity in the CAA. The unique collaborative research and innovative science communication experiences of the undergraduate participants will be reviewed in addition to preliminary results from the expedition.