Northwest Passage Project uses collaboration to successfully study the Arctic

The entire Oden crew, SPRS crew, and NPP expedition team.  
Photo credit: Lars Lehnert, SPRS

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 (SPRS), the film company David Clark Inc., five minority serving institutions, and other partners. The overarching science 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. From July 18 to August 4, 2019, an innovative expedition aboard the Swedish icebreaker Oden took place where student and scientist research teams used oceanographic, atmospheric, and ice sampling methods as well as shipboard surveys of Arctic seabirds and marine mammals to understand how warming Arctic waters and decreasing sea ice may be impacting the region. The expedition also prioritized science communication. Live, interactive broadcasts shared science content, research goals, and preliminary results to audiences at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, the Exploratorium, and the Alaska SeaLife Center. Broad public audiences were also engaged through social media and the NPP website,, where student blogs and highlight videos showcasing the Arctic landscape and expedition activities were posted.

Thick multilayer ice in the western Barrow Strait. Photo credit to Northwest Passage Project/Inner Space Center/Holly Morin

The expedition was an immense success with over 5600 nm traveled, 1500+ chlorophyll samples taken, 84+ hours of documentary footage, 52 CTD casts, and 40 live, interactive broadcasts. During the expedition, the ship also rerouted to rescue a passive acoustic recording device that had broken free and was trapped in an ice floe. The device, which had been recording whale sounds and other aspects of the underwater soundscape in Lancaster Sound for over a year, belonged to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Successful efforts to retrieve the research package is a testament not only to the challenges of Arctic science, but to the collaborative nature of oceanographic research. The project team is now looking ahead to the production of David Clark Inc.’s documentary Frozen Obsession, as well as continued data analysis and scientific results from the expedition.

The Scripps acoustic recorder being recovered. Photo credit to Northwest Passage Project/Inner Space Center/Holly Morin.
The Scripps acoustic recorder being recovered. Photo credit to Northwest Passage Project/Inner Space Center/Holly Morin.

Save the Date: Ocean Literacy Summit November 1-2, 2012

The 2012 NEOSEC Ocean Literacy Summit will be held on November 1-2 at the University of Rhode Island Narragansett Bay Campus. Our keynote speaker, Dr. Bob Ballard, will address the Ocean Literacy Principle:The Ocean is Largely Unexplored.

The biennial event includes workshops, networking opportunities, and exhibits. Mark your calendars, and expect more information in the coming months.

Oceanography Graduate Courses For Educators at URI

University of Rhode Island marine scientists Gail Scowcroft and Christopher Knowlton, of the Office of Marine Programs, will teach the Fall 2009 semester course, Oceanography for Educators.

Oceanography for Educators is designed specifically for K-12 and informal science educators, and offers a breadth of information across the ocean science disciplines, including properties of seawater, structure of the oceans, atmospheric and oceanic interactions, coastal processes, and marine biodiversity. Discussions will include geologic and ecologic history of Rhode Island’s coastal environments. Saturday field sessions will cover Rhode Island’s four distinct coastal ecosystems with hands-on field activities. Projects include the development of inquiry-based activities for classroom use. The course will be held in the Coastal Institute building on the URI Narragansett Bay Campus.  The seven classroom sessions begin on Wednesday, September 30, 2009 and will meet on Wednesday October 7, 14, 21, 28, and November 4 and 18 from 4 to 7:00 pm.  As well as three Saturday field sessions, meeting October 3, 10, and 17 from 9 am to 3 pm. The fee for the course is $650 (an additional $175 fee must be paid separately to the URI College of Continuing Education if requesting credit).  Registration through the URI Narragansett Bay Classroom is required, please call 401-874-6211; do not register through URI’s e-Campus.  Purchase of a textbook is also required.

For more information