Observing ice is an important component in making new discoveries about the many curious and fascinating aspects of frozen water and its role the environment and people’s lives. Below we provide some examples of what scientists have learned about ice so far and hints at some of the many questions that new ice observations may help answer.
When ice is safe, it is very fun to play on and play leads to learning and discovery. Fresh Eyes on Ice aims to spark interest in science through an ice and snow observation network where youth contribute to large scale, cutting edge climate change research, conduct their own investigations, and learn about physics, weather and climate, and the environment. Youth get the opportunity to apply math skills to analyze data collected by themselves and their peers in communities across Alaska. We will be actively working with teachers, parents, and other educators on age-appropriate ice learning activities and lesson plans. We also very much welcome input from teachers, kids, and anyone interested in ice fun and learning. Below are some ice science learning resources we are beginning to compile and develop for Fresh Eyes on Ice.
Activities, Media, and Lesson Plans for Learning about Ice
One of the goals of the Fresh Eyes on Ice project is to provide data products and analysis to support broader understanding of the Arctic system. Just as permafrost-, sea-, and glacier-ice are well known, dynamics, and interacting elements of our changing planet, so is freshwater ice. Addressing questions about how river and lake ice interacts with the hydrologic cycle, energy balance, carbon emissions, and biological communities, as well as human society, starts by providing comprehensive data sets to understand the spatial and temporal dynamics of freshwater ecosystems in the cryosphere. Below are examples of research projects and results that explore Freshwater Ice in the Arctic System.
One of the goals of the Fresh Eyes on Ice project is to provide data to help in making decision about safe travel and recreation on Alaska rivers and lakes. Once Observations & Data begin to be publicly available for the winter of 2019-20, estimates of ice thickness and overflow conditions can be used to make decisions about general ice conditions. However, extra precaution is always advised in using these data because ice conditions can vary greatly from place to place, particularly on rivers. Especially early and late in the winter use extra precautions such as traveling with personal flotation devices, ropes, and ice picks.
The following links provide more detailed information for evaluating safe ice conditions and preparing for ice emergencies.
Additional safety information for conducting ice learning activities with school classes can also be found (coming soon!) in Fresh Eyes on Ice Community-based Monitoring protocols in Science & Learning and guidance in using data to evaluate safe and recreation and travel conditions in Communities & Outreach.
Local Ice Knowledge
Many people in northern regions naturally build great knowledge about ice on rivers and lakes. A native elder who grew up hunting, fishing, and traveling in the Arctic. A hard core ice fisherperson who religiously tracks ice thickness and overflow conditions. A North Slope oilfield worker with many years of experience pumping water from lakes to build ice road. Often times its year-round residents living by a lake or river pay close attention when ice first forms in the fall and goes out in the spring. Knowledge from all of these examples and more can be considered sources of local ice knowledge. As part of the Fresh Eyes on Ice observation network we are working to bring this extremely useful knowledge to inform ice datasets, science, and safety.
Below we provide some sources of local ice knowledge that we are working to synthesize and very much welcome contributions or introductions to new people with fresh or ancient eyes on ice!